‘Unprecedented’: Unemployment claims in MA skyrocket amid coronavirus outbreak

Daniel Fowler
March 27, 2020

New unemployment claims surged to a record high last week, topping 3 million.

The good news, if there is any good news in this, is that between state unemployment insurance and the additional funding that will be coming from the federal stimulus bill, many of these people will have a significant amount of their weekly wages replaced.

New data released by the Department of Labor on Thursday showed an unemployment claims increase of more than 1,950 percent in MA between March 15 and March 21. That's five times the previous record set in 1982.

The shutdowns have forced businesses to lay off thousands of workers throughout the state, bringing economic activity to a virtual standstill.

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"There are good reasons to believe that understandable constraints on the capacity of offices to process claims mean that the true picture of layoffs is even worse", Paul Ashworth, chief US economist for Capital Economics, wrote in a note Thursday.

More than 80,500 initial claims for unemployment benefits were filed the week that ended Saturday, March 21.

Spokane County saw the largest increase, going from 455 new claims in the second week of March to 8,766 new claims in the week of March 15 through March 21, an increase of 1,826 percent, according to Washington's Employment Security Department. Many people have reported being unable to complete their applications for unemployment benefits.

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