New claims for unemployment benefits filed by Northern Virginia residents fell last week to their lowest level since pandemic-related business shutdowns began, even as thousands of area residents continue collecting unemployment, the Virginia Employment Commission reported Thursday.
First-time claims from the region for the week ending Aug. 1 were 4,392, down 44% from the week before, and the lowest since the week ending March 14, when only 404 claims were filed, the VEC said. The decline followed three straight weeks of increases.
Unemployment claims also declined statewide last week, falling 44% to 23,918. The seasonally adjusted drop of almost 17,000 from the week prior was the second largest decline in the country, behind only Florida.
However, the unemployment claims numbers remain historically high, both in Northern Virginia and statewide. In the region, more than 286,000 claims have now been filed since mid-March. Of those, more than 93,000 filed continuing claims last week, meaning they have not yet returned to work. The number of continuing claims fell 4,400 from the previous week, however, and has been on the decline for three straight weeks.
Unemployment claims by locality
|LOCALITY||Week ending Aug. 1||Total Since March 15||Continuing Claims|
Statewide, the continued weeks claimed totaled 331,401, down 13,425 from the previous week, but 311,613 higher than the 19,788 continued claims from the same week in 2019. Continued claims are now at their lowest level since April.
Nationally, seasonally adjusted first-time claims fell by 249,000 to 1.19 million. More than 32 million people nationwide are receiving either state or federal unemployment benefits, according to the most recent data.