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Iowa unemployment claims surge, top 100,000 over two weeks

Iowa unemployment claims surge, top 100,000 over two weeks

From the Coronavirus update Northeast Iowa series
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The Iowa Capitol dome in Des Moines.

DES MOINES — Iowa workers received a double dose of bad news Thursday as claims for unemployment relief again surged and Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered many business to stay closed weeks longer.

Reynolds has ordered restaurants, bars, casinos and other non-essential businesses to stay closed at least until April 30. Violations of the order are simple misdemeanors.

Her action to keep businesses closed beyond the initial April 16 date came on the day it was announced the number of Iowans seeking unemployment benefits topped 100,000 in two weeks.

Initial claims in Iowa reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, filed between Sunday and Saturday of last week, hit a record 58,453. There were 55,963 initial claims by individuals who work and live in Iowa, and 2,490 claims by individuals who work in Iowa and live out of state.

Iowa Workforce Development officials report a total of $13,724,986 of unemployment benefits were paid for the week ending March 27. The number of continuing weekly unemployment claims is 54,461.

The breakdown of claims filed by economic sectors showed the most came from accommodation and food services — 12,519. That was followed by health care and social assistance (7,490), manufacturing (7,168), retail trade (5,888) and other services (3,780).

Iowa’s 100,343 jobless claims the past two weeks came as the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits doubled to about 6.6 million, according to the federal labor agency.

State unemployment officials say they continue to receive an unprecedented level of calls.

“We know waits of more than 15 minutes may occur. However, we are answering almost 80 percent of these calls, so remain on the line and we should get to your call prior to 4:30 p.m.,” according to a news release. “You can also send an email to uiclaimshelp@iwd.iowa.gov. We have been successful in answering most emails within 24 hours.”

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