• 63°

Initial unemployment claims on rise

Most areas of Western Tidewater and South Hampton Roads, along with Suffolk, have seen rises in seasonally-adjusted initial unemployment claims for the past five weeks.

The number of people filing initial claims in Suffolk has gone up for each of the past five weeks, going from 304 people for the week ending June 20, to 760 for the week ending July 25. It’s the highest number of people filing an initial claim in the city since the week ending April 11.

In Franklin, the number of people filing initial claims has gone up in four of the past five weeks, going from 47 for the week ending June 20 to 148 — its second-highest weekly total since the coronavirus pandemic began to show its effects in the region in March.

The number of people filing initial claims in Isle of Wight County has increased over the past two weeks, but at 104 people filing claims for the week ending July 25, that is still below its peak of 472 who filed an initial claim for the week ending April 4.

In the larger cities of South Hampton Roads, all have been seeing increases in initial unemployment claims for more than a month, with Portsmouth’s increasing every week for the past seven weeks, Norfolk’s for the past six weeks and Virginia Beach and Chesapeake’s for the past five weeks.

For the week ending July 25, 42,966 people statewide filed an initial claim for unemployment, an increase of 5,020 from the previous week and its highest level since May.

Statewide, the number of initial claims filed from mid-March through the week ending July 25 was more than double the average number filed during the last three economic recessions, and at more than 1.2 million, has surpassed all initial claims filed from mid-2014 through 2019.

The number of continued claims in all of the region’s localities except Franklin has been going down for at least the past two weeks, with Suffolk’s down for the past three weeks, to 3,825 for the week ending July 25. The number peaked in Suffolk at 4,053 for the week ending July 4.

In Franklin, the number of continued claims is that city’s highest since the start of the pandemic at 634. Other than the previous week, more people in Franklin have been filing for continued claims each week since March 21.

The Virginia Employment Commission has paid $6.9 million in benefits since the start of the pandemic, and the initial claims represent industries most affected during this time, including accommodation and food services, administrative, retail and health care. The payouts have drained the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund, which had started 2020 with a $1.5 billion balance and is projected to end the year with a record $750 million deficit. The trust fund is supported by taxes paid by employers.

The commission said that because these taxes are based, in part, on a company’s history of laying off or reducing staff, businesses most affected by COVID-19-related job cuts are seeing the largest increases in future unemployment insurance taxes.

Another program that had been helping those on unemployment during the pandemic — the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program — ended last week without an extension by Congress. That had been providing a weekly $600 in supplemental payments for those receiving state or federal unemployment benefits.

More than 5,300 state residents took part in a first-ever statewide virtual hiring event July 28. The event drew more than 200 employers with immediate job vacancies.

“The jump in initial unemployment claims in Virginia highlights the fragility of the Commonwealth economy,” said Robert McNab, director of Old Dominion University’s Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy, in a recent statement. “The failure of Congress and the administration to pass a meaningful extension of the expanded unemployment benefits will reverberate throughout Virginia.”

McNabb said forcing unemployed Virginians off of what he termed “an income cliff” in the middle of a pandemic “is shortsighted and endangers prospects for a substantiated recovery.”

 

Initial claims – Suffolk

Week ending March 14: 26

Week ending March 21: 348

Week ending March 28: 864

Week ending April 4: 1,273

Week ending April 11: 881

Week ending April 18: 718

Week ending April 25: 750

Week ending May 2: 645

Week ending May 9: 584

Week ending May 16: 489

Week ending May 23: 437

Week ending May 30: 352

Week ending June 6: 330

Week ending June 13: 314

Week ending June 20: 304

Week ending June 27: 410

Week ending July 4: 456

Week ending July 11: 564

Week ending July 18: 645

Week ending July 25: 760

Total since March 14: 11,150

 

Initial claims – Isle of Wight

Week ending March 14: 5

Week ending March 21: 127

Week ending March 28: 360

Week ending April 4: 472

Week ending April 11: 321

Week ending April 18: 243

Week ending April 25: 246

Week ending May 2: 161

Week ending May 9: 155

Week ending May 16: 112

Week ending May 23: 100

Week ending May 30: 98

Week ending June 6: 93

Week ending June 13: 73

Week ending June 20: 68

Week ending June 27: 82

Week ending July 4: 75

Week ending July 11: 73

Week ending July 18: 87

Week ending July 25: 104

Total since March 14: 3,055

 

Initial claims – Franklin

Week ending March 14: 3

Week ending March 21: 31

Week ending March 28: 103

Week ending April 4: 149

Week ending April 11: 101

Week ending April 18: 81

Week ending April 25: 83

Week ending May 2: 71

Week ending May 9: 83

Week ending May 16: 75

Week ending May 23: 66

Week ending May 30: 56

Week ending June 6: 62

Week ending June 13: 51

Week ending June 20: 47

Week ending June 27:  76

Week ending July 4: 70

Week ending July 11: 92

Week ending July 18: 137

Week ending July 25: 148

Total since March 14: 1,585

 

Initial claims – Southampton

Week ending March 14: 1

Week ending March 21: 23

Week ending March 28: 75

Week ending April 4: 117

Week ending April 11: 87

Week ending April 18: 56

Week ending April 25: 76

Week ending May 2: 59

Week ending May 9: 49

Week ending May 16: 44

Week ending May 23: 33

Week ending May 30: 21

Week ending June 6: 25

Week ending June 13: 26

Week ending June 20: 20

Week ending June 27: 28

Week ending July 4: 41

Week ending July 11: 63

Week ending July 18: 58

Week ending July 25:  47

Total since March 14: 949

 

Initial claims for week ending July 25 (change from previous week):

Virginia Beach: 2,959 (+679)

Norfolk: 3,268 (+451)

Chesapeake: 1,739 (+432)

Portsmouth: 1,933 (+335)

Suffolk: 760 (+115)

Isle of Wight: 104 (+17)

Franklin: 148 (+11)

Southampton: 47 (-11)

 

Continued claims for week ending July 25 (change from previous week):

Virginia Beach: 17,960 (-340)

Norfolk: 13,914 (-303)

Chesapeake: 9,554 (-361)

Portsmouth: 6,268 (+19)

Suffolk: 3,825 (-112)

Isle of Wight: 989 (-40)

Franklin: 634 (+56)

Southampton: 335 (-9)

 

Source: Virginia Employment Commission