Unemployment claims smash record in Delaware

DOVER — Delaware saw almost 19,000 unemployment claims last week, shattering the record set just one week before.

Data released by the federal government Thursday as the coronavirus continues to spread across the country indicates almost 6.65 million Americans filed unemployment claims for the week of March 22-28.

Delaware’s official numbers for the whole month won’t be unveiled for several weeks, but the updates for the past two weeks have been jaw-dropping. Last week, the claim count jumped from 10,776 — already a high — to 18,987.

In fact, Delaware saw more submissions on March 16, 17 and 18 alone than in any month over the past 30 years.

According to data from the state Department of Labor, there were just 2,384 claims in February.

January 2002 previously held the Delaware mark for a single month, with 9,632 claims. The high during the Great Recession was 8,948 in January 2009.

Nationally, around 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment over the previous two weeks, a staggering sum that represents about 3 percent of the population. Perhaps better than anything else, that statistic alone clearly indicates the impact the coronavirus has had.

Per the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment claims jumped from 282,000 for the week ending March 14 to nearly 3.31 million over the following seven days before doubling last week.

The Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, last week estimated 14 million jobs could be lost by summer. Delaware, its forecast says, could lose about 44,600 jobs — 11.2 percent of its total private sector employment.
Per the National Federation of Independent Business, 92 percent of small businesses have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus.

As in some other states, Gov. John Carney has ordered non-essential businesses to close and placed restrictions on public gatherings, effectively shutting down much of the state economy in the interest of public health.

It’s unclear exactly how many people have lost their jobs due to the virus, but per a state website that lists major layoffs, eight companies let go of a combined 2,152 workers from March 16-23. State law requires large employers to notify the Department of Labor of layoffs involving at least 50 people.

The Delaware Department of Labor posted on Facebook Wednesday urging Delawareans to be patient as the agency processes an increasing number of claims and a totally new situation.

Due to the virus outbreak, the state has relaxed unemployment benefit rules. Under the new guidelines, employees of a business that must shut down or cut back because of the virus or the state of emergency can receive benefits, as can people ordered to quarantine because of possible exposure to COVID-19. Also eligible for the time being are those forced to quit or take unpaid leave from their jobs to care for children due to the emergency closure of schools or for a loved one who has the virus.

Weekly work search requirements are waived for those impacted by the virus.

Part-time workers may be able to qualify.

Workers can file for benefits at ui.delawareworks.com, and questions can be emailed to uiclaims@delaware.gov.

Companies that are hiring are urged to email covid19jobs@delaware.gov and include the name of the company, the job title, a description and salary if applicable and contact information.

The Department of Labor said job openings are posted on DelawareJobLink and social media for employers listed as essential.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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