Va. initial jobless claims nearly doubled last week
16,000 new claims came in the week ending Dec. 5
The number of initial jobless claims filed last week jumped 93.5% — its highest level since the Aug. 8 filing week, the Virginia Employment Commission reported Thursday.
For the week ending Dec. 5, 16,654 Virginians filed initial claims for unemployment, nearly a two-fold increase of 8,048 from the previous week.
“While one week doesn’t constitute a trend, the increase is significant,” Dominique Johnson, a research associate at Old Dominion University’s Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy, said in a statement. “For the last four months, weekly initial claims have hovered around 10,000. This is the highest number of initial claims filed since the week ending Aug. 1.”
Last week, 73,804 Virginians remained unemployed — 54,728 higher than the 19,076 continued claims from the same period last year. People receiving unemployment benefits through the VEC must file weekly unemployment claims in order to continue receiving benefits.
“This increase, though small, was the first increase in continued claims since the Aug. 15 filing week,” according to the VEC. The continued claims total is mainly comprised of those recent initial claimants who continued to file for unemployment insurance benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In more unwelcome news, after 15 consecutive weeks of declines, the number of Virginians receiving some form of benefits increased from the previous week,” Johnson said in a statement. “With COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations reaching record levels in Virginia, there is a fear that we are starting to see the warning signs that the state’s economy is starting to slow again.”
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 Dec. 5:
- Fairfax County, 1,220
- Virginia Beach, 1,013
- Prince William County, 1,011
- Richmond, 765
- Norfolk, 672
- Henrico County, 483
- Portsmouth, 406
- Chesterfield County, 361
- Newport News, 320
- Chesapeake, 287
Nationwide, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims for last week was 853,000, an increase of 137,000 from the previous week’s revised level, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. There were 317,866 initial claims during the same week last year.
“As we have seen before, with public health metrics trending in the wrong direction, mobility and economic activity by consumers is declining,” Dragas Center Director Robert McNab said in a statement. “Local and state governments have, in many cases, also responded by increasing restrictions on economic and social activities. The combination of slowing consumer demand and increasing restrictions has led businesses to shed employees.”
Subscribe to Virginia Business.