CORONAVIRUS

Weekly jobless benefit claims in Iowa up again

Line chart: Initial Iowa unemployment insurance claims filed for week of April 5 - April 11, 2020, and previously.
Line chart: Initial Iowa unemployment insurance claims filed for week of April 5 — April 11, 2020, and previously.

DES MOINES — Iowa experienced another strong wave of unemployment insurance claims last week with 46,356 idled workers newly filing for benefits — though for the first time in weeks, that was not a record, Iowa Workforce Development officials announced Thursday.

About $37.9 million in state unemployment insurance benefits were paid to claimants for the week of April 5-11, the department said.

First-time claims in Iowa reported by the U.S. Department of Labor stood at 46,356. The number of continuing weekly claims is 128,819.

Iowa workers were pushed to government assistance programs in droves after Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered a large swath of business closings beginning March 17 to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Idled workers from the following sectors made the most claims in the past week: health care and social assistance (6,789), manufacturing (6,002), retail trade (5,813), accommodation and food services (4,292), and miscellaneous industries (9,604).

Iowa Workforce Development officials also began paying federal CARES Act benefits this week, including an additional $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation weekly amount as well as unemployment claims for the self-employed. This week about $61 million in federal benefits were paid.

According to federal labor officials, 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the last four weeks. Nationally, another 5.2 million workers filed for their first week of unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total number of Americans who have filed initial jobless claims to roughly 13.5 percent of the labor force, since March 14.

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Overall, the last four weeks have marked the largest and most dramatic rise in claims on record since the Labor Department started tracking the data in 1967.

In Iowa, more than 210,000 jobless benefit claims have been filed in the past four weeks — a record level, including a peak of 67,334 claims for the week ending April 4.

The maximum amount of state unemployment benefits a laid-off Iowan who qualifies can receive varies 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 amount is $481. The $600 CARES Act aid is in addition to that.

Officials say employers or claimants in Iowa with questions can email Iowa Workforce Development at uiclaimshelp@iwd.iowa.gov or call 1-866-239-0843, though wait times are lengthy.

Also, Iowans can file claims or get more information at IowaWorkforceDevelopment.gov.

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

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