More than 138000 Mainers have filed for unemployment since March

Friday, 22 May, 2020

Newly released data from the U.S. Labor Department show more than 38,000 MA residents filed initial unemployment claims last week. Even as the economy is beginning to reopen in parts of the country, layoffs and furloughs have taken hold of the United States labor market.

The U.S. Labor Department says roughly 38.6 million people have filed for jobless aid in the United States since the coronavirus forced millions of businesses to close their doors and shrink their workforces. MA surpassed 1 million unemployment claims, between the 865,000 workers who filed claims under the traditional system and the over 200,000 self-employed people who filed claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Total payments in March were around $3.8 billion compared to $2.7 billion in February.

The highest levels of unemployment were reported in Nevada, Michigan, Washington, Rhode Island and New York, with the biggest increases coming in Florida, Georgia, Washington, New York and South Dakota.

Economists estimate an additional 2.4 million filings in the week ending May 16, following 2.98 million claims during the previous week.

Nevertheless, after hitting a record in the week ending March 28, the weekly initial jobless claims figure has been on a steady decline.

"The COVID-19 virus continues to impact the number of initial claims and insured unemployment", the department wrote.

The implementation of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA, a federal program that provides benefits to self-employed people, contractors and other workers who are not typically eligible for unemployment assistance, has generated multiple claims from some people.

Yet the weekly totals remain well above any seen in a single week during the global financial crisis 12 years ago, and more comparable to the Great Depression, as the pandemic forced businesses nationwide to shut down and lay off workers.