Va. new jobless claims dip below 10,000
Continued unemployment claims also declined last week
Virginia saw another decrease in initial unemployment claims last week, with 9,843 new claims in the filing week ending May 22, down 799 from the previous week, according to the Virginia Employment Commission’s Thursday report.
Continued claims decreased by 6,250 last week, with 54,163 filed by May 22. This time a year ago, during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, 39,242 people filed new unemployment claims, 74% more than last week, while 402,926 people filed continued claims, 87% more than last week. People receiving unemployment benefits through the VEC must file weekly unemployment claims in order to continue receiving benefits.
Starting June 1, the VEC will start requiring unemployment benefit recipients to apply for at least two jobs a week and report details of job search activity, a requirement that was waived during the height of the pandemic.
Also, in a settlement of a federal class action lawsuit against the VEC this week, Judge Henry Hudson signed orders requiring the agency to clear 95% of its 92,000-claim backlog by Sept. 6. The state has ranked as the slowest in the nation in processing difficult-to-resolve claims, according to the lawsuit filed on behalf of five Virginia women.
Gov. Ralph Northam previously 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.
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 22:
- Norfolk, 507
- Fairfax County, 418
- Richmond, 400
- Virginia Beach, 339
- Prince William County, 304
- Portsmouth, 242
- Chesapeake, 234
- Newport News, 229
- Alexandria, 228
- Chesterfield County, 198
Nationwide, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims last week was 406,000, a decrease of 38,000 from the previous week’s revised level, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the lowest number of initial claims since March 14, 2020, the week before the COVID pandemic prompted mass layoffs. There were 1,902,792 initial claims during the same week last year.