Va. sees 5K spike in initial jobless claims last week
Nationwide, nearly 53M people have filed for unemployment during pandemic
Since January, more than 1 million Virginians have filed initial jobless claims, according to the Virginia Employment Commission. More than 37,000 Virginians filed initial jobless claims last week — an increase of more than 5,000 claims from the previous week, according to a VEC statement released Thursday.
“The jump in initial unemployment claims in Virginia highlights the fragility of the commonwealth economy,” Robert McNab, director of Old Dominion University’s Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy, said in a statement.
The VEC projects that by the end of 2020, nearly 1.5 million initial jobless claims will have been filed.
In Virginia, 357,098 people remained unemployed last week — a decrease of 14,972 from the previous week, but 337,023 higher than the 20,075 continued claims from the same week last year. People receiving unemployment benefits through the VEC must file weekly unemployment claims in order to continue receiving benefits.
The regions of the state that have been most impacted continue to be Northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads.
Below are the top 10 localities, listed by number of initial unemployment claims, for the week ending July 18:
- Norfolk, 2,817
- Fairfax County, 2,750
- Virginia Beach, 2,280
- Richmond, 2,188
- Portsmouth, 1,598
- Prince William County, 1,421
- Newport News, 1,389
- Chesapeake, 1,317
- Chesterfield County, 1,087
- Henrico County, 1,068
- Hampton, 1,058
The accommodation and food services industry continues to be the most affected industry by the pandemic, followed by administrative, retail and health care jobs, according to the VEC.
The VEC has received more than 28,000 applications for the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides up to an additional 13 weeks of regular or traditional unemployment insurance benefits to those who have exhausted their eligibility. Approximately $29 million has been paid out to applicants as of July 23.
The VEC on July 2 launched an application portal for Virginians to access the PEUC program, which is provided by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Payments are retroactive dating back to the week ending April 4. To be eligible, applicants must have exhausted all benefits from their regular unemployment insurance benefits. The program is available through the week ending Dec. 26.
Approximately 60,000 applications have been flagged with eligibility issues thus far. VEC officials remind applicants that not everyone is eligible to receive benefits, according to eligibility requirements. The VEC is targeting 10,000 decisions per week regarding applications. PEUC benefits are taxable, as are regular unemployment insurance benefits and federal pandemic unemployment compensation, according to the VEC.
Nationwide, 1.416 million people filed initial claims for unemployment last week, bringing the total of unemployed Americans to nearly 53 million in the wake of the pandemic-related economic crisis, according to U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) statistics released Thursday.
The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 11.1% for the week that ended July 11, a decrease of 0.7% from the previous week. However, claims were up by 109,000 from the week before.
For the week ending July 4, 48 states reported that nearly 13.179 million people are claiming federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provides temporary benefits for people who are not eligible for regular or traditional unemployment insurance. This funding is set to end this week on July 25, unless Congress takes action.
“The failure of Congress and the administration to pass a meaningful extension of the expanded unemployment benefits will reverberate throughout Virginia,” McNab said in a statement. “Proposals to adjust these benefits to previously earned income seriously misjudge the capacity of state unemployment systems, which are already coping with historic caseloads, to manage this additional complexity. Forcing unemployed Virginians off an income cliff in the midst of a pandemic is shortsighted and endangers prospects for a sustained recovery.”
“Barring action by Congress to extend the benefit, federal law mandates the end of the $600 supplemental benefit this week,” says VEC spokesperson Joyce Fogg. “If it is extended or modified, VEC will execute its responsibilities under the law.”
Forty-five states reported 940,113 people claiming PEUC, which provides up to an additional 13 weeks of regular or traditional unemployment insurance benefits to those who have exhausted their eligibility.
States with the largest increases in initial claims for the week that ended July 11 were Florida, Georgia, California, Washington and Indiana, while the largest decreases were seen in Maryland, Texas, New Jersey, Michigan and Louisiana.
The states and U.S. territories with the highest insured unemployment rates for the week ending July 4 were Puerto Rico, Nevada, Hawaii, Georgia, California, Louisiana, New York, Connecticut, the Virgin Islands and Massachusetts.
“Labor markets will not return to pre-COVID levels for an extended period of time,” Dominique Johnson, research associate at the Dragas Center, said in a statement. “Allowing extended unemployment benefits to expire will also exacerbate existing racial inequities as Black Americans have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Black households typically have less wealth, reducing their ability to cope with financial shocks.”
The VEC is hosting a statewide virtual hiring event on July 28, for which more than 150 employers from varying industries have signed up to participate. Employers may contact Robert Walker, VEC veteran outreach coordinator, for details on registering for the event.
“With the [federal] supplemental benefit ending this week, we recognize that many benefits recipients may be looking to return to workforce,” Fogg says. “We’ve heard from hundreds of employers who are looking to fill immediate vacancies, and this is a great opportunity to connect employers and prospective job — and especially in a virtual format.”