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Iowa sees increase in unemployment claims in last week of January

Many Iowans still do not have payments because of debit card error, 'programming changes'

A passerby walks past a hiring sign while entering a Target store in September. (Associated Press)
A passerby walks past a hiring sign while entering a Target store in September. (Associated Press)

Iowa Workforce Development reported an increase in new and continuing unemployment claims for the week of Jan. 24.

New claims increased from 5,251 to 5,938, and continuing claims rose from 46,303 to 46,708.

About 36.5 percent of claims were related to the novel coronavirus, IWD said. It’s an increase from 35.4 percent for the week of Jan. 17.

Construction was the largest source of claims with 1,134, followed by self-employed and independent contractors with 1,005, manufacturing with 736, retail trade with 478, and health care and social assistance with 405.

IWD issued $15.1 million in standard unemployment benefits, $18.3 million in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, $4.8 million in Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and $3.4 million in Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

Some Iowans have not received PUA or PEUC benefits since the extension of the benefits in December because of the state’s “programming changes.”

IWD did not provide a timeline for when those people will receive benefits in a news release Thursday, but it said the agency is “working diligently to release all eligible payments as quickly as possible.”

IWD is also working with U.S. Bank to issue debit cards after the state agency gave incorrect data that resulted in many Iowans not receiving unemployment payments.

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The agency said cards either have arrived or are in production for about 70 percent of people who receive unemployment payments via debit card.

The other 30 percent must “make a payment election” by going to IWD’s website, emailing uiclaimshelp@iwd.iowa.gov or calling 866-239-0843 to avoid further delays, according to a news release.

These numbers are preliminary and are yet to be adjusted by the U.S. Department of Labor. They also only include people actively seeking work and therefore do not necessarily give a full picture of how many Iowans are out of work.

Comments: (319) 398-8394; john.steppe@thegazette.com

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