New unemployment claims in Iowa break record set last week

Unemployment documents from the Iowa Workforce Development office. — Emma McClatchey/Little Village

Last week, Iowa reported a record number of first-time unemployment claims. Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend called the number “pretty staggering” even before the final total was known — there were 41,890 first-time claims for the week ending on March 21.

The new number of first-time unemployment claims IWD reported on Thursday broke the record set last week.

For the week ending March 28, Iowa had 58,453 first-time unemployment claims. It also had 54,461 continuing claims, bringing the total number of active claims to 112,914.

In its report on unemployment claims for the week ending March 21, IDW included a list of the five sectors of the economy filing the largest number of first-time claims.

• Accommodation and Food Services (13,364)

• Health Care and Social Assistance (4,936)

• Education Services (2,698)

• Other Services (1,999)

• Retail Trade (1,710)

The list for the week ending March 28 had certain changes. Education services is no longer on the list, but manufacturing is. Also, there has been a notable growth in claims from the retail sector.

• Accommodation and Food Services (12,519)

• Health Care and Social Assistance (7,490)

• Manufacturing (7,168)

• Retail Trade (5,888)

• Other Services (3,780)

The national number of first-time unemployment claims also broke a recent record.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported 3,307,000 first-time claims nationwide. The previous record number was less 700,000. This week’s number was 6,648,000.

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” Aaron Sojourner, a labor economist at the University of Minnesota, told the Washington Post. “The scale of the job losses in the past two weeks is on par with what we saw in two years during the Great Recession.”

Neither the Iowa nor the national numbers reflect the unemployed among the self-employed or full-time gig workers. Neither was eligible for unemployment until the CARES Act expanding unemployment eligibility during the COVID-19 was signed into law on March 27.

Anyone needing information about filing for unemployment can find it on IWD’s site. The agency has also posted a FAQ specifically for people whose employment status has been affected by COVID-19.

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