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Virginia unemployment claims fall, still far above normal

(WBKO)
Published: May. 14, 2020 at 12:53 PM EDT
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Tens of thousands more Virginia workers applied for unemployment benefits last week, a figure that was far higher than before the coronavirus pandemic struck but marked a continued decline since an unprecedented peak in April.

Over 53,000 initial claims were filed during the week ending May 9, according to federal data released Thursday. That number is down by about 6,000 from the week before and marks the fifth straight week of declining totals.

Though the volume of claims has retreated, “it may not return to pre-pandemic levels for some time,” the Virginia Employment Commission said in a news release.

Nationwide, nearly 3 million laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week. That brings to roughly 36 million the total number of people who have now filed for jobless aid in the two months since the coronavirus first forced millions of businesses to close their doors and shrink their workforces.

For the most recent filing week, continued unemployment claims totaled 392,673, according to the state commission. In the comparable week last year there were 17,804 continued claims.

"Thus far, about two thirds of workers who filed for initial claims during the pandemic continued to file during the May 9 filing week,” the news release said.

The commission said that the total number of initial claims filed from mid-March through the last filing week exceeded 16% of pre-pandemic, nonfarm employment.