First-time claims for unemployment benefits in Northern Virginia declined slightly last week, but other measures indicated few signs of improvement in the regional or state job market.
The Virginia Employment Commission reported Thursday that 5,775 Northern Virginia residents filed initial claims for unemployment benefits in the week that ended July 4. That was down 5.9% from the previous week, but still 10 times normal figures. Since pandemic-related business shutdowns began in mid-March, over 260,000 first-time claims have been received from the region. The weekly number peaked in early April and had been declining every week through the week ending June 27, when it increased, before dropping again last week.
Continuing claims, or a measure of how many claimants remained unemployed, increased last week by about 2,200 to 107,062. That means about 58% of all first-time claimants have gone back to work, but that number has remained relatively stable for the past three weeks.
Unemployment claims by locality
|LOCALITY||Week ending July 4||Total Since 3/15||Continuing Claims|
Statewide, the number of first-time claims last week dropped by 130, or less than one-half of 1 percent, to 31,825. Since the pandemic began, over 938,000 unemployment claims have been filed, or more than the total filed between mid-September of 2014 and mid-March of this year.
Continued weeks increased statewide as well as regionally, totaling 378,607, up 11,893 from the previous week, and 359,637 higher than the 18,970 continued claims from the comparable week last year.
WalletHub reported that Virginia ranks 46th among states and the District of Columbia in terms of how unemployment claims have recovered since the crisis began, and 49th in the past week. Based on a review of three different factors, WalletHub said only Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Oklahoma and New Hampshire rank below Virginia.
Nationwide, in the week ending July 4, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 1.31 million, a decrease of 99,000 from the previous week's revised level.
The VEC said Thursday is has paid a total of $5.7 billion in benefits since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, VEC sent text and voice messages to more than 41,000 individuals identified as potentially eligible for benefits under the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. On July 2, VEC launched the application portal for Virginians to access the program, provided by the CARES Act.
This program provides up to an additional 13 weeks of regular/traditional unemployment insurance benefits to individuals who have already exhausted their regular unemployment insurance benefits. This program applies to claims by individuals whose benefit year ended on July 6, 2019, or after. Payments to recipients recently began and are available through the week ending on December 26, 2020.
Since the initial payments to applicants, which began Tuesday, VEC has paid out $9.9 million in PEUC benefits on over 12,000 claims. Payments can take up to three business days to reach a recipient’s account and will be retroactive, with the first payable week for qualifying applicants under PEUC being the week ending April 4, 2020.
The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which provides a supplemental $600 in weekly benefits to individuals who qualify for state or federal unemployment benefits, will automatically be added to the weekly benefit amount under the PEUC claim. The final payable week for this $600 weekly payment is the week ending July 25, 2020.