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May 22, 2022

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Jobless claims fall for third straight week in Washington

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SEATTLE — New jobless claims in Washington state fell last week, the third consecutive weekly decline, as the state job market appeared to rebound from winter layoffs and a surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Washingtonians filed 4,731 new, or “initial,” claims for jobless benefits in the week ending Saturday, according to data posted Thursday by the state Employment Security Department. That’s down 12 percent from the prior week, and around 40 percent below the pre-pandemic level from the same week in 2020.

Washington’s latest claims data comes as the nation saw a 10.3 percent drop in new claims, to 290,000, the first decline in a month, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

In Washington, claims in late December and early January had spiked because of a combination of extreme winter, seasonal layoffs and a surge in COVID-19 cases, state economists said.

Last week saw new claims either fall or remain virtually flat in all industries across the state.

Just over 49,000 Washingtonians collected benefits last week, down by 8 percent from the week before, and total benefits paid dropped 9.2 percent to $25.6 million.

Construction workers, for example, filed 5,376 new claims last week. That’s down only modestly from the prior week, when construction claims doubled, to 5,721, the highest level since May 2020.

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