Arkansas Jobless Claims Top 133,000 In Past Month

Apr 16, 2020

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The surge in Arkansas jobless claims receded last week by 44%, according to Thursday’s U.S. Department of Labor report. Arkansas’ total for the week ending April 11 was 34,635, down from a spike of 62,086 the week prior.

The latest data pushed Arkansas’ total the past four weeks to 133,752.

Jobless claims nationwide totaled 5.24 million, a decrease of 1.37 million from the previous week’s revised level, according to the Labor Department. That pushes the U.S. jobless total the past month to roughly 22 million.

The dramatic rise in claims is the direct result of responses to efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, which include the closure of non-essential businesses and social distancing measures that have essentially shut down many service sector and tourism-based businesses.

As of Thursday morning, COVID-19 cases in Arkansas stood at 1,599, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. There have been 10 deaths and 509 recoveries.

There were 639,664 U.S. cases and 30,985 deaths in the U.S. as of Thursday morning.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 8.2% for the week ending April 4, an increase of 3.1% from the previous week’s unrevised rate. That mark tops the previous high of 7% in May of 1975.

“Today’s report reflects the continuing impact of the important public health measures being taken to defeat the coronavirus,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia said in a statement. “Americans are making sacrifices for the wellbeing of the country, and the Trump Administration is moving quickly to support workers and small businesses during this difficult time.”

Scalia said the Labor Department has disbursed more than half a billion dollars in administrative funding to states to help them contend with the surge in claims and burden on their staff and computer systems,. Additional funding will be released as states apply and meet the requirements set by Congress.

“The Administration also continues to prioritize keeping American workers connected to their employers through programs that aid business owners in keeping workers on payroll,” Scalia said. “As America maintains its disciplined efforts to “slow the spread,” the Department will continue to prioritize getting prompt relief to workers and the States and businesses that support them.”

Bentonville think tank Heartland Forward released new analysis Thursday that showed total unemployment claims are more closely tied to the industrial composition of a state’s economy rather than its COVID-19 cases. The analysis takes a closer look at Michigan, which has been hit hardest in the Heartland by both COVID-19 and job losses:

  • Since March, 1.1 million Michiganders (22% of its workforce) have filed for unemployment. Only Hawaii has had a higher share of its workforce file.
  • On the health side, Michigan has the fourth-highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country, the third-highest number of coronavirus-related deaths, and its mortality rate is 50% higher than the national rate. 
  • Heartland Forward mapped the prevalence of COPD and asthma in Michigan, which are linked to more severe COVID-19 symptoms, and found that Flint has the highest prevalence of COPD in the country and Detroit has the highest prevalence of asthma in the country.