By David Jacobs | The Center Square
More than 80,000 Louisiana residents filed new unemployment benefits claims last week as numerous businesses remain shuttered or limited in hopes of containing the spread of the new coronavirus.
The number of new claims was down about 20,000 from the previous week but still far above pre-pandemic numbers, which generally would be closer to 2,000 per week.
According to U.S. Department of Labor tallies that have not been adjusted to reflect seasonal trends, 80,045 Louisiana workers filed advance claims for unemployment benefits during the week that ended April 11, compared to 100,621 the previous week. Gov. John Bel Edwards has issued an emergency order waiving the usual one-week waiting period for new applicants to begin receiving benefits.
Nationwide, 5.2 million people filed new claims for unemployment benefits. More than 6 million people filed across the country in each of the previous two weeks.
Edwards’ “stay at home” order, which keeps many businesses closed and limits operations for others, expires April 30. He says state officials want to begin reopening the economy in phases, starting with certain regions or employment sectors, though he warns that at least some restrictions will remain in place into May.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell on Wednesday announced she is extending her city’s order until May 16.
Since March 29, the Louisiana Workforce Commission has paid more than $252 million in benefits and assistance to Louisiana residents, the LWC says.
As of Wednesday, Louisiana was one of only two states that had begun paying Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the LWC said. Under the federal CARES Act, PUA provides up to 39 weeks of federal benefits to people who are self-employed, seeking part-time employment, otherwise not qualified for state unemployment, unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to one of the COVID-19-related reasons designated by the CARES Act.
The LWC says people filing unemployment claims may experience a delay in receiving their benefits retroactive to April 4 but says everyone “will receive the funds they are entitled to.”
“With tens of thousands of residents receiving payments in such a short time frame, our system has experienced issues, but we are focused on resolving them and getting these funds out to all the residents of Louisiana,” the Workforce Commission says.