New unemployment claims in Washington fell slightly last week — a welcome if modest sign of continued recovery in the state’s job market. 

Washingtonians filed 5,467 new, or “initial,” claims for jobless benefits last week, down 3.2% from the prior week, according to data posted Thursday by the state Employment Security Department. 

That was overshadowed by a more dramatic fall nationally: Overall U.S. claims dropped nearly 5% to 269,000 last week, the fewest since the pandemic started last year, the Labor Department reported Thursday.  

“Claims are headed in the right direction, showing the labor market recovery continues, albeit slowly,” said economists with Contingent Macro Research. 

Nationally, economists were also buoyed by predictions that Friday’s U.S. jobs report would show strong growth for October after an anemic performance in September. 

Washington’s jobs report, to be published Nov. 17, will also be closely watched.


After robust growth in June and July, the state added substantially fewer jobs in September, despite predictions that the end of federal pandemic unemployment benefits on Sept. 4 would spur hiring.

September’s jobs data also showed how far Washington remains from full recovery.

The state’s workforce in September was 3.42 million, which is short by around 61,000 jobs, or nearly 2%, compared to where it was in September 2019, ESD data shows.

The total number of Washingtonians filing weekly unemployment claims continues to fall: The state received 42,933 continued claims last week, down just over half a percent from the week before, according to data provided by ESD. The state paid out $18.7 million in benefits.

The Washington Post contributed to this report.

Coverage of the pandemic’s economic impacts is partially underwritten by Microsoft Philanthropies. The Seattle Times maintains editorial control over this and all its coverage.