New unemployment claims in Washington ticked up again last week as the state continues to grapple with pandemic-related job losses on par with those of the Great Recession.  

Washingtonians filed 11,863 new, or “initial,” claims last week, a 3.6% increase from the previous week, the state Employment Security Department (ESD) reported Thursday. It was the second consecutive weekly increase after a month of steady declines.

Nationally, new jobless claims rose 2.2% to 744,000 last week, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday.

Washington’s increase in new claims comes amid renewed concerns about the state’s rising count of COVID-19 cases even as the state vaccination program is expanding rapidly. Starting April 15, all Washingtonians 16 and older will be eligible for a jab.

The number of new claims filed last week, though far lower than those during the first months of the pandemic, remains roughly similar to the numbers “filed during the Great Recession,” the ESD said Thursday in a statement.

The total number of weekly, or continuing, claims filed in Washington last week fell just under 1% from the prior week, to 409,904.


Last week, the ESD paid benefits on 305,707 individual claims, which was down 1.5% from the prior week. Because individuals can have multiple claims, the number of claims is often slightly higher than the number of individual claimants.

Since March 2020, more than 1 million Washingtonians have been paid more than $16.6 billion in jobless benefits, with roughly two-thirds of the money coming from the federal government.

By comparison, in each of the previous 10 years, the ESD’s annual payout averaged just over $1 billion, the ESD said.