RICHMOND— In figures released today, the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) announced that weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance climbed further down from its recent peak while the rate of growth in continued claims filings slowed significantly.
For the filing week ending April 18, the figure for seasonally unadjusted initial claims in Virginia was 82,729. This brings the most recent five-week (March, 21, March 28, April 4, April 11, and April 18) total of weekly initial claims filings to 493,501, which is greater than the average of all initial claims filed during the last three economic recessions. The latest claims figure was a decrease of 21,890 claimants from the previous week. The 20.9% decrease indicates that initial claims volumes may have peaked during the April 4 filing week, even as they remained stratospheric compared to historical trends.
For the most recent filing week, continued weeks claimed totaled 297,993, up over a quarter from the previous week and 279,498 higher than the 18,495 continued claims from the comparable week last year. The continued claims total overtook the initial claims total in recent weeks as it accumulated those recent initial claimants who continued to file for unemployment insurance.
Food preparation and serving occupations (restaurants, bars, and hotels) remain the largest occupational group impacted by COVID-19. Before the pandemic, these jobs were a smaller percentage of unemployment insurance claims with a higher percentage of filings from those employed in manufacturing, logistics, and management jobs, among others. Although unemployment claims have broadened to impact those in other occupations (including sales, administrative, and healthcare), food service jobs grew slightly as a share of filings in recent weeks. The information for filing weeks March 1 through April 18 below indicates the top ten out of 22 occupational types in terms of percentage of total initial claims.
Nationwide, the number of seasonally adjusted initial claims totaled 4,427,000, a decrease of 810,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 8,000 from 5,245,000 to 5,237,000. The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 4,267,395 in the week ending April 18, a decrease of 697,173 (or -14.0 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had projected an increase of 83,790 (or 1.7 percent) from the previous week. There were 211,762 initial claims in the comparable week in 2019.
Most states showed decreases in the most recent week while seven reported weekly increases. Looking at advance-issue, seasonally unadjusted numbers, increases in initial claims for the week ending April 18 were in Florida (+324,718), Connecticut (+68,707), West Virginia (+31,307), Louisiana (+12,386), Texas (+6,149), Kansas (+2,047), and Alaska (+1,020). The U.S. Department of Labor noted that Florida’s large increase was a ‘”state estimate.” Virginia’s weekly change was the 15th largest decline among states. New York saw a nearly 50% drop in claims over the week.