Va. new jobless claims top 10K, a dramatic rise
Initial claims had been hovering around 6K
Virginia’s initial unemployment claims rose by 67% this week, while continued claims continued to decrease, the Virginia Employment Commission reported Thursday. The state saw the nation’s second largest increase in initial claims.
For the filing week ending Aug. 7, the state recorded 10,226 new jobless claims, up 4,197 from the previous week. Continued claims totaled 31,739, down 221 claims from the previous week. Compared to the same week last year, continued claims were 88% lower than the 264,410 claims the same week in 2020, while initial claims last were about 23% lower than a year ago, when claims reached 13,265.
The Old Dominion University Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy weighed in on the data.
“From mid-May to the end of July, initial claims steadily declined from roughly 10,600 to 6,000. Data for the latest week ending Aug. 7, however, shows an increase of more than 4,000 claims from the previous week, wiping out the declines in initial claims over the last three months,” said Dominique Johnson, research associate at the Dragas Center, in a statement.
She cited the recent surge in cases as a threat.
“We caution against making any firm conclusions about the direction of the recovery until there are several weeks of sustained decreases or increases in the initial claims data,” Johnson said. “The recent increase in COVID-19 cases in Virginia is unwelcome news and potentially threatens the pace of the recovery.”
People receiving unemployment benefits through the VEC must file weekly unemployment claims in order to continue receiving benefits.
VEC is under court order to get through a backlog of 92,000 cases by Labor Day, but has filed for dismissal of the lawsuit, saying it has resolved 98% of the disputed unemployment claims.
More than half of the claimants who filed for benefits last week reported being in these industries: health care and social assistance; administrative and waste services; accommodations/food service; and retail.
The regions of the state that have been most impacted continue to be Northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads.
“The increase in initial claims in Hampton Roads undermines the progress of the previous months in returning to a pre-pandemic labor market,” said Robert McNab, director of the Dragas Center, in a statement.
“Typically, employment peaks in the summer months and starts to decline in the fall. If the rise of the delta variant has undermined consumer confidence, the seasonal decline in employment may arrive early and be sharper than in previous years. Vaccine hesitance and hostility continue to pose a challenge in increasing vaccination rates across Hampton Roads and Virginia and threaten the continued recovery from the pandemic.”
Nationwide, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims last week was 375,000, a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week’s revised level. There were 831,251 initial claims in the comparable week last year.