VEC Final Logo - Virginia Employment Commission

Initial claims for unemployment benefits from Northern Virginia residents declined 21 percent last week to the lowest level since the first week of pandemic-related business shutdowns.

The Virginia Employment Commission reported Thursday that 16,960 claims were filed from the region in the week ending May 2.  That was down from 21,352 the week before and the fewest since the week ending March 21, when about 11,000 claims were filed. 

However, last week's filings brought the total number of new claims from Northern Virginia to 185,161 in the seven weeks since the pandemic began and businesses began closing. In comparison, only 404 first-time claims were filed from the region for the week ending March 14. 

Gov. Ralph Northam ordered non-essential businesses to close on March 24. He announced Monday that he expects to begin lifting those restrictions May 15

Among Northern Virginia localities, Fairfax County continued to have the highest number of claims for unemployment benefits, with just over 7,000 last week and 79,604 since the pandemic began.  Prince William County has been tracking at about half that level, followed by Loudoun County, Arlington County and Alexandria.

Initial Unemployment Claims by Locality

LOCALITY 14-Mar 21-Mar 28-Mar 4-Apr 11-Apr 18-Apr 25-Apr 2-May Since 3/15
Fairfax County 145 4,345 12,109 21,302 14,454 11,239 9,126 7,029 79,604
Prince William 90 2,222 5,863 9,178 6,353 5,080 4,508 3,541 36,745
Loudoun 53 1,622 4,561 7,070 4,799 3,751 3,048 2,399 27,250
Arlington 19 849 1,752 2,484 1,897 1,438 1,146 946 10,512
Alexandria 33 797 1,683 2,578 1,895 1,398 1,212 1,013 10,576
Stafford 31 579 1,699 2,263 1,468 1,164 1,004 886 9,063
Fauquier 9 254 753 1,029 652 497 425 344 3,954
Manassas 10 198 603 874 601 482 402 375 3,535
Culpeper 9 195 550 698 478 396 351 318 2,986
Falls Church 4 55 134 214 138 87 101 72 801
Fairfax City 0 11 11 15 4 5 25 31 102
Manassas Park 1 2 9 3 5 4 4 6 33
TOTALS 404 11,129 29,727 47,708 32,744 25,541 21,352 16,960 185,161

Statewide, 59,361 residents filed first-time claims for benefits last week, down 17.7% from the week before and also the lowest number since the first week of the crisis.

Continued weeks claimed, or initial claimants who remain unemployed, totaled 376,689 last week, up over 10% from the previous week and 358,211 higher than the 18,478 continued claims from the comparable week last year, the VEC reported. That total is more than 10% of March private sector payroll employment in the Commonwealth.    

Nationwide, the number of seasonally adjusted initial claims last week totaled 3.17 million a decrease of 677,000 from the previous week's level.  In all, about 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the pandemic began.

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