By David Jacobs | The Center Square
More than 72,000 Louisiana residents applied for unemployment benefits last week, an increase of more than 70,000 new claims from the prior week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Nationally, almost 2.9 million initial claims were filed during the week that ended March 21, an increase of more than 2.6 million, as businesses close or scale back operations in hopes of mitigating the spread of the new coronavirus.
Advance claims in Louisiana totaled 72,620 during the week ending March 21, compared to 2,225, the labor department says.
Those numbers have not been adjusted to account for seasonal trends, as is often done with unemployment statistics. Seasonally adjusted numbers indicate a nationwide spike of almost 3.3 million.
Louisiana’s unemployment trust fund is worth more than $1 billion. Louisiana Workforce Commission Secretary Ava Dejoie has said she believes the fund is strong enough to handle a surge in demand.
Since declaring a statewide public health emergency March 11, Gov. John Bel Edwards has issued increasingly restrictive mandates meant to keep people home as much as possible and discourage residents from gathering in large groups, though many businesses deemed “essential” under federal guidelines remain open.
As of the most recent update mid-day Wednesday, Louisiana had reported 1,795 cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, and 65 deaths. Cases from 48 of the state’s 64 parishes had been reported, including 827 from Orleans and 359 from neighboring Jefferson.