The number of initial regular unemployment claims decreased from the previous week, reflecting an administrative change that required some people who already were unemployed to file new claims.
According to new figures from the state Employment Security Department released Thursday, Yakima County had 890 initial regular unemployment claims for the week ending Nov. 14, a 20.5% decrease from the previous week.
Initial claims involved residents filing for the first time or those filing additional claims due to a new unemployment situation. The claims include those still being reviewed for eligibility.
Regardless, even with the week-over-week decrease, the latest number of new unemployment claims were still above initial regular claims from the same period a year ago, when 773 claims were filed.
During the previous week, which ended Nov. 7, there was a 48.5% week-over-week increase in initial claims, which totaled 1,119. A contributing factor to the drastic increase was workers filling a new claim to avoid getting benefits suspended.
Employment Security told workers in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program they needed to file a new claim to ensure they were in the right unemployment program. PUA is a federal emergency program that provides benefits to workers typically not eligible for regular state unemployment.
For the week ending Nov. 14, Yakima County had 101 initial claims for PUA, an increase of 4.1% from a week earlier. Yakima County residents filed 2,176 claims to continue receiving PUA benefits, a 7% decrease over the previous week.
There’s another segment of workers in another program called the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, PEUC, an emergency program that provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits for those who have exhausted state benefits, which can be collected for up to 26 weeks. During the week ending Nov. 14, 192 new claims were filed in Yakima County for the program, a 2.7% increase from a week earlier. Yakima County residents filed 2,015 continued claims for PEUC benefits, a decrease of 2.2% over the previous week.
Meanwhile, regular continued claims, which reflect those who continue to file for benefits, increased. During the week ending Nov. 14, there were 4,757 continued claims, an increase of 5.9% from the week earlier. The figure is well below the spring when upwards of 16,000-plus claims were filed.