Idaho Labor Department sees another 7,500 jobless claims

| May 7, 2020 2:49 PM

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Another 7,500 laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week, officials said Thursday,

The Idaho Department of Labor said more than 125,000 unemployment claims have been made since mid-March when the state’s first confirmed coronavirus case appeared in southwestern Idaho.

The department said the number of laid-off workers in the last seven weeks is more than double the total number of claims filed in all of 2019.

But the agency also said it's the fifth consecutive week the number of new claims fell.

Service jobs accounted for nearly 17% of the total claims filed last week, the department said. Health care and social assistance jobs represented about 14%, while retail jobs accounted for 12%.

People under age 25 represented about a quarter of those filing claims, and women filed 53% of claims.

The Labor Department has paid out about $60 million in unemployment benefits between March 23 and May 2.

The department also said another $97 million in $600 weekly benefit payments have been distributed through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program that began April 24.

The state had been hovering around 3% unemployment for months until the virus appeared. Within three weeks of Idaho's first coronavirus infection on March 13, another 1,000 people had been infected and community spread was confirmed in central Idaho and highly populated southwestern Idaho.

Republican Gov. Brad Little responded with an emergency declaration on March 13 and on March 25 issued a statewide stay-at-home order for Idaho’s 1.75 million residents that also shut down non-essential businesses.

Little lifted the stay-at-home order Friday and began the first stage of his four-stage plan to return Idaho to near normal activity by the end of June if there isn't a second wave of infections.

Idaho on Thursday had 2,158 confirmed cases of the virus and 66 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. But it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death for some people, especially older adults and people with existing health problems.

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Another 7,500 laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week. More than 125,000 unemployment claims have been made since mid-March when the state’s first confirmed coronavirus case appeared in southwestern Idaho, Idaho Department of Labor officials said.