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Nearly 20K more Utahns filed for unemployment benefits last week


Nearly 20K more Utahns filed for unemployment benefits last week

By Jacob Klopfenstein, | Updated - Apr. 23, 2020 at 10:12 a.m. | Posted - Apr. 23, 2020 at 7:33 a.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — The number of Utahns seeking unemployment benefits increased by nearly 20,000 last week, and nearly $60 million in assistance was paid out between state and federal dollars.

A total of 19,751 Utahns filed for unemployment last week, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

There were 95,376 claims filed for unemployment benefits last week, including new and old claimants, according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

In the week of April 5-11, 24,171 people filed for unemployment benefits.

“We are encouraged to see another decrease in new claims filed, though we continue to receive them at record levels,” Kevin Burt, unemployment insurance division director for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, said in a news release. “The Utah unemployment insurance system, and the dedicated staff that run it, continues to effectively and efficiently meet the needs of Utahns and we will make every effort to continue to do so.”

Burt discussed more details about Utah’s unemployment situation at a news conference Thursday. Watch the replay of the event below.

As part of receiving unemployment benefits, people must submit a weekly claim that shows they are still eligible for benefits. Last week, 1,906 people ended filing a weekly claim, which is the highest amount of people ending their claim since March 15.

That larger number could mean those people were able to get unemployment again, or their employer received a loan and was able to bring them back to work, Burt said. When people stop filing a weekly claim, it signifies to the unemployment division that they are no longer in need of their unemployment benefit, he said.

Just under $60 million was paid out between money from Utah and the federal government, according to data from the Department of Workforce Services. Utah's unemployment division paid out about $17.4 million, and another $42.6 million was distributed through the federal $600 stimulus program, part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act.

Utah's unemployment trust fund, which is funded through an employer tax, is one of the healthiest trust funds in the nation, according to Burt. It is estimated to last about 20 months at its peak payout, he said.

The $600 stimulus, which is added to a person's unemployment check each week, is not paid through the Utah unemployment trust fund. That money comes from federal dollars.

The data released Thursday shows the continuing trend of high unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since March 15, about 125,000 people have filed for unemployment benefits in Utah, according to workforce services data. During that time, 6,661 people stopped filing their weekly claim, though it is unclear if those people began receiving unemployment benefits before or during the pandemic.

“We continue to see historic levels, but lower than the previous two weeks," Burt said Thursday.

The top three industries that saw people file for unemployment last week were office and administrative support, with 13.4%; sales and related occupations, with 11.4%; and food prep and serving, with 9%.

The county with the largest amount of claimants was Salt Lake County, with 40.4%. Following were Utah County, with 13.4%; Weber County, with 9.6%; Davis County, with 9.4%; and Washington County, with 4.2%.

Nationally, 4.4 million people filed for unemployment last week, and a total of about 26 million have sought benefits since the pandemic began.

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