Earlier this week Governor Inslee finished a press conference in which, to save Washingtonians’ lives in the face of this spike in COVID cases, he announced new statewide restrictions. We are also issuing a statement you’ll find here. This order will be in effect from Monday, November 16th through Monday, December 14th.

We anticipate this will mean a large influx of new as well as re-started claimants for unemployment benefits of all kinds: UI, PUA, and PEUC.

ESD stands ready to help.

In order to stay home and stay healthy, people will be in deep need of the security and safety we will be able to provide them with unemployment benefits. Our efforts are essential to our communities, our economy and our state!

We have learned so much throughout this crisis. As an agency, we have made substantial system improvements, hired and trained over 1,200 new team members, cranked up our cybersecurity and anti-fraud measures, deeply engaged stakeholders and partners and dramatically improved communications and outreach.

A proof point of our internalization of that learning and growth is how smoothly the Lost Wages Assistance rollout went, where we stood up a new program in a matter of weeks and sent nearly $675 million out to Washingtonians.

AND to meet this moment, we are asking for your help getting the word out to your constituents so that they go to our website for what they need to know, and to follow us on social media for tips, updates and alerts (see below for sample language you could use in your constituent newsletter).

What we’re doing to gear up for this new wave of demand

Our goals are the same as they have been since the beginning of the crisis:

  • Help people get their benefits as quickly as possible
  • Expand those who can get benefits
  • Keep out the criminals and ensure only those who are legitimate claimants obtain benefits

As a part of upholding these goals, we’ve been preparing for this situation since July when we first launched the “Restart your Claim Page.” Restarting a claim is much easier than initiating a new one – so we expect that many of those who are impacted will have a smoother process than before.

In addition to the ways we’ve generally increased our readiness described above, here are just a few of the steps we’re taking right now to further address the influx of calls and service needed:

  • Equip customers to restart or initiate a claim on their own without having to call us. Here are steps we’re taking to support that:
    • We’ve updated the website, are posting on social media and are directly contacting claimants with instructions on restarting or creating a claim from scratch
    • We are conducting frequent webinars throughout the upcoming weeks on restarting and/or filing new claims
    • From a technology standpoint – we have dramatically increased our capacity and have our operations team, as well as the operations teams from our core vendors, on alert
    • We are emphasizing that peopSle can claim throughout the week and don’t have to do it all up front
  • Help those who need to contact us via phone – whether to file for benefits or to resolve issues on their claims – be able to do so:
    • Starting Monday, we are expanding our phone service hours to 8am to 4pm
    • We are bringing back to the UI support effort over 100 members of our employment connections team who had been helping and were trained up on UI but had recently returned to their work in WorkSource.
    • We are taking steps to help those who have limited English proficiency and need the language line better gain access to that support.

Simple proposed language for your constituent outreach:

Affected by the new lockdown?

Whether you have to restart your unemployment insurance claim or file a new one, the Employment Security Department is here to help. Find more information at esd.wa.gov.

Thank you for your continued partnership and support as we strive to provide benefits to all eligible Washington workers!


Hope you have a peaceful week!


Suzi LeVine

Commissioner, the Employment Security Department