For the fifth straight week, initial claims for unemployed workers in Thurston County dropped, according to new numbers out Thursday from the state Employment Security Department.
A total 674 initial claims were made the week of Aug. 23-29, according to ESD. That number is down slightly from the 676 claims reported the week prior in Thurston County, though about 256 percent higher than claims that were reported this time last year.
Thurston County’s July unemployment rate, the most recent released, stands at 10.4 percent.
Industries in the county that saw the largest chunk of initial claims reported include specialty trade contractors, educational services, administrative and support services, and food services and drinking establishments.
Statewide, initial claims dropped about 1.2 percent compared with the previous week to 18,172. Claims across the board, including weekly claims, for unemployment benefits fell about 1.4 percent to 560,920 (about 94 percent of those claims were continued claims from the previous week).
Between Aug. 23-29, ESD says it paid out more than $178.9 million to 357,248 claims. This payout is about $3.5 million less than the week prior.
Initial claims applications in Washington state remain at elevated levels and are about 270-percent higher when compared with this time last year, ESD says.
ESD recently announced it would begin processing the payments for its Lost Wages Assistance program on Monday, Sept. 21. According to a news release, the program is a temporary emergency measure to provide additional benefits to eligible claimants.
Though the funds were designated to state through federal action, ESD says this program is not similar to the additional $600 weekly CARES act benefits in that there are different requirements and it pulls from a limited pool of funds.
“Any additional funds to help unemployed workers are welcome – and we estimate that this will provide more than $450 million to families, individuals and our state’s economy,” ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine said in a prepared statement.
“It is important to emphasize however, that this benefit is currently time-limited to only a three-week period, between July 26 and Aug. 15, 2020, and not everyone who has filed an unemployment claim will be eligible. We continue to apply for additional weeks of funds and will do so as long as the money is available,” she continued.
Claimants who may be eligible must certify they are unemployed or partly unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19 or state-mandated restrictions.