Va. sees second week of slightly lower initial jobless claims
Continued claims up by 2,500, however
Virginia saw another week of little change in initial unemployment claims, with 10,642 new claims filed during the week ending May 15, the Virginia Employment Commission reported Thursday. This was a decrease of 628 claimants from the previous week.
Continued claims last week rose by 2,569 from the previous week, reaching 60,413 total claims. This time a year ago, during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, 44,699 people filed new unemployment claims, 76% more than last week, while 403,557 people filed continued claims, 85% more than last week. People receiving unemployment benefits through the VEC must file weekly unemployment claims in order to continue receiving benefits.
On Tuesday, Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the VEC to invest $20 million in initiatives to speed up processing of claims, particularly those that require adjudication. The governor’s executive directive requires the commission to hire 300 claims processors, modernize its insurance system by Oct. 1 and make other immediate technology upgrades. The state has ranked as the slowest in the nation in processing difficult-to-resolve claims, according to a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of five Virginia women. Last week, a federal judge disclosed that the state and the plaintiffs have initiated settlement talks.
More than half of the claimants who filed for benefits last week (and the prior four weeks) reported being in the accommodation/food service, administrative and waste services, retail trade and health care and social assistance industries, according to the VEC.
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 May 15:
- Fairfax County, 549
- Norfolk, 465
- Richmond, 439
- Prince William County, 381
- Virginia Beach, 359
- Newport News, 279
- Chesapeake, 248
- Alexandria, 239
- Portsmouth, 237
- Hampton, 223
Nationwide, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims last week was 444,000, a decrease of 34,000 from the previous week’s revised level, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. There were 2,163,595 initial claims during the same week last year.