New federal data show about 60,000 additional Virginia workers applied for unemployment benefits last week, a figure that declined for the fourth straight week but was still far higher than before the coronavirus led to widespread business closures.
For the week ending May 2, 61,138 people in Virginia filed initial claims, according to federal data released Thursday. New applications have been falling since initial claims reached a record-setting nearly 150,000 in the week ending April 4.
The Virginia Employment Commission said in a news release Thursday that while “the volume of initial claims has retreated from its recent peak, it may not return to pre-pandemic levels for some time.”
Nationally, nearly 3.2 million laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week. Roughly 33.5 million people across the U.S. and about 625,000 in Virginia have filed in the seven weeks since the coronavirus began forcing millions of companies to close their doors and slash their workforces.
In Virginia, for the most recent filing week, continued unemployment claims were up over 10% from the previous week at 376,689, according to the employment commission.
“That total is more than ten percent of March private sector payroll employment in the Commonwealth,” the news release said.
In the comparable week last year, there were 18,478 continued claims.
Gov. Ralph Northam announced earlier this week that he expects to begin the first phase of reopening on May 15, when an executive order mandating certain types of nonessential businesses closures is set to expire.