New unemployment claims in Washington dropped last week amid a broad national decline in jobless claims.

Washingtonians filed 4,784 new, or “initial,” claims for unemployment benefits last week, a nearly 8% decrease from the prior week, according to data posted Thursday by the state Employment Security Department. 

New claims in Washington fell even faster than they did nationally: Across the U.S., initial claims declined 2.1% last week, to 290,000, the fewest since the pandemic started last year, the Labor Department reported Thursday.  

New claims in Washington are well below the number filed in the same week in pre-pandemic 2019.

The total number of continuing weekly claims filed last week by individuals receiving regular unemployment benefits was 46,084, down 7.2% from the previous week, according to data provided to The Seattle Times by ESD. (As of Oct. 7, the agency no longer posts weekly figures on continuing claims or total benefits paid out, and will post monthly reports instead.)

This week’s encouraging news about declining jobless claims was partly offset by a somber ESD jobs report on Wednesday.

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In September, the state added just 17,600 jobs, or 7.3% more than in August. That was better than the national economy, which saw new hiring last month drop by 47%, but far less than in June and July, when Washington employers added 25,600 and 24,300 jobs, respectively.

September’s jobs report underscored how far Washington remains from a full economic recovery. The state workforce, which stood at 3.42 million as of September, is still down by around 61,000 jobs, or nearly 2%, compared to where it was in September 2019, ESD data shows.

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.

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