Louisiana sees slight uptick in new unemployment claims, offers disaster unemployment benefits

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

The number of Louisiana residents making new claims for unemployment rose slightly last week, though the number of continued claims for state benefits fell, the Louisiana Workforce Commission reported Friday.

Initial unemployment insurance claims for the week ending March 6 rose to 7,100, compared with 6,981 the previous week. For a comparison from before the COVID-19 pandemic, during the week ending March 7, 2020, 1,698 initial claims were filed.

Continued claims for the week ending March 6 decreased to 48,016 from the previous week’s total of 53,212. There were 14,199 continued claims for the week ending March 7, 2020, the LWC reported.

The number of Louisiana residents filing new claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance went up during the week ending March 6, from 769 the previous week to 1,175, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. PUA is for workers such as independent contractors who don’t qualify for state benefits.

The number of Louisiana residents making continued claims for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation went up during the week ending Feb. 20, the most-recent week the federal government has reported, from 78,092 to 80,650. PEUC is for workers who have exhausted their state benefits.

President Joe Biden this week granted Gov. John Bel Edwards’ request to declare a major disaster for 23 parishes affected last month by severe winter weather. The parishes are Avoyelles, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Calcasieu, Catahoula, Claiborne, Concordia, DeSoto, East Baton Rouge, Franklin, Grant, LaSalle, Madison, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, Red River, Richland, Sabine, Webster, West Carroll and Winn.

Residents and businesses in those parishes may be eligible for disaster unemployment assistance. The LWC is accepting applications until April 12.

Disaster Unemployment assistance is available to those who:

• Worked or were self-employed or were scheduled to begin work or self-employment; and

• Do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or Extended Benefits from any state; and

• Were unable to reach their job or self-employment location because they must travel through the affected area and are prevented from doing so by the disaster; or

• Can no longer work or perform services because of physical damage or destruction to the place of employment as a direct result of the disaster; or

• Cannot physically access the place of employment because of its closure by the federal, state or local government in immediate response to the disaster; or

• Can establish that the work or self-employment they can no longer perform was their principal source of income; or

• Cannot perform work or self-employment because of an injury as a direct result of the disaster; or

• Became the breadwinner or major support of a household because of the death of the head of household.

DUA is available beginning Feb. 14 until Sept. 11, as long as the individual’s unemployment continues to be a direct result of the disaster.

Applicants are encouraged to file their applications online by visiting www.laworks.net through the LWC’s HiRE (Helping Individuals Reach Employment) portal. Applicants also may file by telephone by calling 1-866-783-5567.