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33K more Utahns file for unemployment as coronavirus crisis slashes economy

By Jacob Klopfenstein, KSL.com | Updated - Apr. 9, 2020 at 10:14 a.m. | Posted - Apr. 9, 2020 at 8:00 a.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — Another 33,076 Utahns filed for unemployment insurance last week as the coronavirus crisis continues its stranglehold on the world economy.

That's about 4,500 more than the amount of people who filed claims the week before last, when 28,560 filed unemployment claims in the state, according to the United States Department of Labor.

"This is a historic high," Kevin Burt, Unemployment Insurance Division director for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, said Thursday. "It’s even higher than the previous weekly report."

The department paid out a total of $6,881,153 in unemployment benefits last week, according to a news release from the division.

The Utah industry with the most people who filed for unemployment benefits last week was office and administrative support, with 12.9% of claimants, the release said. The sales and related occupations industry accounted for another 11.4% of claimants, and the personal care and service accounted for 10.2%.

The county with the most people filing was again Salt Lake County, with 43.3% of claimants, according to the release. Just under 15% were from Utah County, about 9% from Davis County, 7.6% from Weber County and 5.3% from Washington County.

"We continue to receive new claims at an unprecedented level, and the unemployment insurance division staff’s priority is getting payments out," Burt said.

About 90% of people who have filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic began have been temporarily furloughed and expect to return to work when the pandemic is over, according to Burt. The division refers to those people, many of whom work in the restaurant industry, as "job-attached," and they are eligible for unemployment even though some may have a job waiting for them when the pandemic is over.

A $600 federal stimulus will be added to the regular unemployment benefit for Utahns, Burt said. It will also be added retroactively to benefit disbursements starting March 29. Utah is one of the first states in the nation to make the $600 stimulus available for people, he added.

Nationally, 16.6 million people have filed for unemployment benefits since the COVID-19 pandemic began, meaning that about 1 in 10 workers has lost their job.

As of last week, the processing time for unemployment insurance applications was between 21 and 30 days, according to Burt.

People are advised to apply online and make sure their applications are fully completed to reduce that processing time, Burt said. The Unemployment Insurance Division will contact you if there is a problem with your application; there is not a need for applicants to contact the division, he added.

In addition to filing an initial application, people must also file a weekly unemployment insurance claim with the division, or they will not receive their benefit.

People who are self-employed are not eligible for unemployment benefits, because they do not pay in to the tax that supports Utah's unemployment benefits trust fund, Burt said. However, there may be some additional pandemic assistance available next week.

More information can be found at jobs.utah.gov/covid19.


Burt discussed the state’s unemployment situation at a Thursday press conference. Watch the replay of the event below.

Jacob Klopfenstein

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