Va. jobless claims reach record high amid COVID-19 crisis
46,885 Virginians filed for unemployment last week, breaking 1989 record.
A record-breaking 46,885 Virginians filed for unemployment benefits last week amid the economic nosedive that has accompanied the COVID-19 crisis, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics released Thursday. The previous record for initial unemployment claims in Virginia was 25,133 in December 1989, according to a report released Thursday from the Dragas Center for Economic Analysis at Old Dominion University.
Nationally, more than 3 million people have filed for unemployment, the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims on record. The previous national record was 695,000 in October 1982, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
The coronavirus crisis has resulted in 23,000 hotel-related layoffs in Virginia, and the Dragas Center anticipates that will continue.
“With restaurants and bars closing and hotels and motels reporting that occupancy rates have fallen below 30%, we project layoffs will continue in these industries over the coming weeks,” the Dragas Center statement says. “While some retailers have announced hiring plans, the overall contraction in employment will continue to increase in the short term.”
The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) on Monday released the results of a study estimating that Virginia’s lodging industry will lose a total of more than 78,000 total direct and indirect jobs before the pandemic is over.
On March 17, Gov. Ralph Northam waived the one-week waiting period for seeking unemployment benefits so that those who have been put out of work by the growing crisis can start receiving aid immediately through the Virginia Employment Commission.
Just a week ago, Northam said that 10,000 Virginians had filed for unemployment.
“As consumer and business expectations continue to decline and social distancing measures spread across the United States, unemployment claims will continue to increase in the coming weeks,” according to the Dragas Center.