For Release:
May 14, 2020
Timothy Aylor
Senior Economist
Economic Information & Analytics Division
(804) 486-2624

Virginia’s Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims for Week Ending May 9th

~ Seasonally unadjusted weekly initial unemployment insurance claims remained highly elevated but decreased by 12.6 percent during the latest filing week ~

RICHMOND—The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) announced that the total number of initial claims filed from mid-March through the May 9, 2020 filing week exceeded sixteen percent of pre-pandemic, nonfarm employment, according to figures released today.

For the filing week ending May 9, the figure for seasonally unadjusted initial claims in Virginia was 52,139. The latest claims figure was a decrease of 7,492 claimants from the previous week. Though the 12.6% weekly decline indicates that the volume of initial claims has retreated from its recent peak, it may not return to pre-pandemic levels for some time.  

For the most recent filing week, continued weeks claimed totaled 392,673, up over 4% from the previous week and 374,869 higher than the 17,804 continued claims from the comparable week last year. The continued claims total is mainly comprised of those recent initial claimants who continued to file for unemployment insurance benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus far, about two thirds of workers who filed for initial claims during the pandemic continued to file during the May 9 filing week.

According to preliminary figures from the May 9 filing week, the accommodation and food service sector, which includes hotels and restaurants, continued to see the greatest percentage of initial claims for unemployment benefits (19% of those reporting). This reflects impacts of public health and safety measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, that percentage has declined since March 21, when about 45% of initial claims filed were in those industries. Many initial claims also came from workers in retail trade (15% of those reporting) and health care and social assistance (13% of those reporting) during the week of May 9. The information for filing weeks March 21 through May 9 below indicates the top 11 out of 20 industries in terms of percentage of total initial claims.


For additional information on who is claiming unemployment insurance in Virginia, access the VEC’s    U.I. claims data dashboard ( that is updated no later than the following Monday after the weekly claims press release.

Nationwide, the number of seasonally adjusted initial claims totaled 2,981,000, a decrease of 195,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 7,000 from 3,169,000 to 3,176,000.  The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 2,614,093 in the week ending May 9, a decrease of 241,467 (or -8.5%) from the previous week. In addition, for the week ending May 9, 29 states reported 841,995 initial claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). 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 May 9 were in Connecticut (+262,542), Florida (+47,045), Washington (+13,994), Georgia (+13,035), New York (+5,265), South Dakota (+1,202), and Wisconsin (+697). Virginia’s weekly change was the 22nd largest decline among states.