Va. new jobless claims declined again last week
Filings drop 20%, while continued claims also decrease
Virginia’s new unemployment claims fell for the second week in a row last week, declining by 20%, the Virginia Employment Commission reported Thursday.
Continued jobless claims also decreased for the filing week ending Sept. 4, down 2,036 claims from the previous week to total 44,435. Initial claims totaled 6,179, down 1,598 claims from the previous week.
Compared to this week last year, initial claims were 45% lower last week than 11,135 recorded the first week of September 2020, and continued claims were 80% lower than 217,485 claims filed last year. People receiving unemployment benefits through the VEC must file weekly unemployment claims in order to continue receiving benefits.
Last week’s new jobless claims brought the total number filed since March 21, 2020, to 1,805,058, according to the VEC.
“For the third straight week, initial claims for unemployment benefits are down from the previous week. While the number of initial claims filed are near a pandemic low, they remain nearly three times higher than the level of claims observed during the comparable week in 2019,” Dominique Johnson, research associate at Old Dominion University’s Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy, said in a statement Friday. “The number of Virginians receiving some form of benefits also declined from the previous week but remain more than 2.5 times above the pre-pandemic levels observed during the comparable week in 2019. Overall, Virginia’s labor market shows continued improvement. Data for July showed Virginia’s labor force rose for the third straight month and the unemployment rate declined to 4.2%.”
Monday was a turning point for unemployed people nationwide, as the federal government’s unemployment benefits stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic came to an end, including the $300 a week supplemental benefit Virginians received via VEC. Also, the federal government’s eviction moratorium ended this month, but Virginia extended its moratorium to June 2022 in August. According to U.S. Census data, Virginia has delivered more rent relief than any other state, having distributed more than 50% of funds received from the federal government.
“The loss of extended benefits come on the heels of an underwhelming August jobs report as the impact of delta variant on the economy becomes more apparent,” Dragas Center Director Robert McNab said in a statement. “The nation added less than 250,000 jobs in August, nearly a quarter of the number of jobs added the previous month. While some might believe the end of the pandemic unemployment benefits will immediately solve hiring problems, it is important to remember that millions of Americans dropped out of the labor force entirely. There were more than five million fewer individuals in the labor force in August 2021 than in the month before the pandemic, February 2020.”
Also, the deadline for VEC’s federal court order to get through a backlog of 92,000 unemployment claims ended Tuesday. The VEC reported it has resolved more than 91,000 of the claims, and U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson ordered the state agency and legal aid groups representing plaintiffs whose claims were delayed to meet before Sept. 25 to create a plan to address further issues.
The majority of the claimants who filed for benefits last week in Virginia reported being in these industries: health care and social assistance; retail; administrative and waste services; and accommodations/food service. The regions of the state that have been most impacted continue to be Northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads.
Nationwide, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims last week was 310,000, a decrease of 35,000 from the previous week’s revised level. There were 857,896 initial claims in the comparable week last year.