Saturday, September 30, 2023

Virginia jobless claims over 500K since coronavirus hit

More than a half million Virginians have filed unemployment claims since the coronavirus outbreak hit the state last month, according to new federal data released Thursday.

Thursday’s report from the U.S. Department of Labor showed more than 74,000 Virginians filed unemployment claims last week. That marks the third straight week totals have dipped since weekly claims reached a record-setting nearly 150,000 in the week ending April 4.

Still, it’s far higher than before the crisis. In the month prior to impact from the coronavirus, jobless claims in Virginia averaged around 2,600.

Altogether, in the six weeks since March 15 for which data is available, about 570,000 people have filed for jobless benefits in Virginia. That’s about 13% of the 4.46 million people the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates make up the state’s workforce.

Nationally, more than 3.8 million workers applied for unemployment benefits last week as the U.S. economy slid further into a crisis that is becoming the most devastating since the 1930s. Roughly 30.3 million people have now filed for jobless aid over the past six weeks, more than one in six American workers.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued an executive order in late March that was later extended closing recreation, entertainment, and personal care businesses and limiting restaurants to offering only takeout and delivery services in order to help slow the spread of the virus.

Northam said Wednesday that he’s continuing to look at data on testing, hospitalization and other information before deciding whether to extend that order past May 8, when it is set to expire. He reiterated that he’s is open to the idea of opening businesses on a regional basis.

“We’re going to do it as soon as we can, as soon as it can be safely,” Northam said.

An executive order directing Virginians to stay home unless they must leave for essential services, remains in effect until June 10.

The Virginia Department of Health reported over 15,800 cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday, and the death toll stood at 552. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Millions of people around the world have been infected.

John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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