Washington County among top 5 highest unemployment claims in state for 2nd week in a row

Stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — According to recent numbers from the Utah Department of Workforce Services, Southern Utah is experiencing a similar increase in unemployment claims as that which is being seen in other parts of the country.

For the week of March 22-28, the five counties in Utah that had the highest number of individuals filing new unemployment insurance claims were Salt Lake at 41.83%, Utah at 14.63%, Davis at 9.17%, Weber at 6.81% and Washington at 6.06%.

The three industries that saw the highest percentage of claims for March 22-28, as self-identified by the claimant at the time of their filing, were food preparation and serving (16.6%), office and administrative support (12.03%) and management (9.46%). These were also the industries that saw the highest percentage of claims the week before.

“From a statewide perspective this impacting everyone,” Brooke Porter Coles, public information officer with Utah Department of Workforce Services, said. “Because of the coronavirus pandemic, we are seeing a very high volume of unemployment claims. This is different than we’ve ever seen before.”

As opposed to the Great Recession, Coles said, which was a gradual loss of jobs primarily in the government sector, this has hit relatively suddenly in various other jobs.

When the numbers for March 15-21 were released, in which Washington County posted 1,178 claims (6.23% of claims in the state), Kevin Burt, the Unemployment Insurance Division director for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, said the volume of claims had “increased significantly, and also quickly.”

“The Unemployment Insurance Division staff are working diligently to try to meet this high demand, understanding the significance of this benefit to those that are applying,” Burt said in a press release. “It is important to note that many of the new claimants are still connected with their employer and expect to return with increased economic activity.”

One bright sign, Coles said, is that many claims are from unemployed workers who are “temporarily” furloughed and who can be expected to be employed when the crisis passes.

If an individual’s employment has been impacted by COVID-19 they should visit jobs.utah.gov/covid19, where they will find regularly updated FAQs, including on the impact of the federal stimulus known as the CARES Act.

Workshops are also available twice daily providing information on how to apply for unemployment benefits, what temporary financial assistance may be available and tips for finding a new job. The page also includes an FAQ for employers with questions regarding unemployment insurance.

Individuals should apply online and take the time to complete their application fully. The division will contact the claimant if there is a need for additional information to process a claim; there is no need for the claimant to contact the division directly.

Workforce Services asks that individuals who are filing a claim apply online whenever possible at jobs.utah.gov

For anyone without access to the internet, call 801-526-9675; however, Workforce Services say that unemployment claims will be processed faster online.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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