CORONAVIRUS

100,000 jobless claims in Iowa in two weeks due to coronavirus epidemic

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DES MOINES — The number of Iowans seeking government unemployment benefits after losing their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic has topped 100,000 in the last two weeks.

Initial claims in Iowa reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, filed between Sunday and Saturday last week, hit a record 58,453. There were 55,963 initial claims by individuals who work and live in Iowa, and 2,490 claims by individuals who work in Iowa and live out of state.

Iowa Workforce Development officials report a total of $13,724,986 of unemployment insurance benefits were paid to claimants for the week ending March 27. The number of continuing weekly unemployment claims is 54,461.

The breakdown of claims filed by economic sectors showed the most came from the accommodation and food services category — 12,519. Health care and social assistance had 7,490, manufacturing 7,168, retail trade 5,888 and other services 3,780.

Iowa’s total of 100,343 in new jobless claims the past two weeks comes as the number of Americans filing for unemployment insurance benefits nationwide doubles to about 6.6 million, according to the federal labor agency.

Thursday’s state report topped last week’s numbers when 41,890 Iowans filed for weekly unemployment benefits totaling $10,674,712.

The maximum amount of state unemployment benefits a laid-off Iowan who qualifies can receive will vary based on how many dependents a claimant has, according to officials. For a claimant with four dependents, the maximum is $591 per week; for a claimant with no dependents, the maximum weekly benefit amount is $481.

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A $2.2 trillion federally enacted economic rescue package also will provide idled Iowa workers unemployment benefits of an additional $600 a week.

The maximum number of weeks a claimant is eligible is 26 weeks, the agency said. But, if a claimant is working part-time and reporting wages, the number of weeks is extended due to only receiving a partial payment each week.

Filings for unemployment aid generally reflect the pace of layoffs and the surge in weekly applications nationally reflected the damage the viral outbreak has inflicted on the Iowa and U.S. economies.

Iowa Workforce Development officials say they continue to process unemployment insurance claims in a timely fashion. However, the agency is not authorized to release payments and it may be several weeks before they are made, according to a department news release.

Affected Iowans are urged to visit www.IowaWorkforceDevelopment.gov to file for initial and weekly unemployment insurance claims and for the most updated information on the federal CARES Act benefits.

State unemployment officials say they continue to receive an unprecedented level of calls.

“We know waits of more than 15 minutes may occur. However, we are answering almost 80 percent of these calls, so remain on the line and we should get to your call prior to 4:30 p.m.,” according to the department’s news release.

“You can also send an email to uiclaimshelp@iwd.iowa.gov. We have been successful in answering most emails within 24 hours,” agency officials said in the release. “We will continue to provide as much assistance as possible to our fellow Iowans to ensure everyone who is eligible for benefits receives those benefits in a timely manner.”

For more information on the total data for this week’s unemployment claims, please visit https://www.iowalmi.gov/unemployment-insurance-statistics

Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

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