New Jobless Claims in State Decline for Third Consecutive Week


New jobless claims in the state declined for the third consecutive week as fewer workers in the retail trade, accommodation and food services sector sought benefits, according to the Washington State Employment Security Department.

Laid-off workers in Washington filed 16,461 new jobless claims Jan. 17-23, a 14.3% decrease compared with the week prior, the department reported Thursday.

However, continued claims in all unemployment categories rose slightly last week. More than 482,158 claims in all unemployment benefit categories were filed the week ending Jan. 23, a 2.8% increase from the previous week .

The increase in continued claims was because of an influx of extended benefit claims, according to the ESD. Claimants are eligible for extended benefits after depleting their regular state or federal benefits.

Workers in the construction sector filed the greatest number of new claims last week with 2,290, followed by accommodation and food services sector employees, who filed 1,814. Laid-off retail trade workers filed 1,502 and health care and social assistance employees filed 1,323, according to the ESD.

The ESD paid more than $234 million for 300,222 claims last week. It has paid more than $14 billion in benefits since the coronavirus pandemic began to affect the state's economy in March.