The pace at which Virginians filed for jobless benefits jumped sharply last week, though the number of people getting continued benefits was down from a year ago.
The Virginia Employment Commission reported on Thursday that it got 15,962 initial claims for benefits for the week that ended Sept. 18, based on seasonally adjusted data. That was an increase of 12,140 claimants from the previous week, breaking a nearly monthlong trend of declines in claims for benefits.
After a decline the week before, “filings reverted to trends from earlier in the summer as some claimants, whose federal benefits ended September 4, filed for unemployment benefits,” the VEC said.
While initial claims rose, the VEC said the number of claims for continuing unemployment benefits was 37,569 last week, a decrease of 3,055 from the previous week and 80% lower than the 188,195 continued claims from the same week in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic was keeping more people out of work.
More than half of the new claims were from people working in health care, social assistance and retail trade, as well as the administrative, waste, accommodation and food service industries.
The number of initial claims also jumped nationwide by about 16,000 to 351,000 for the week that ended Sept. 18.
Initial claims spiked even though Virginia’s overall unemployment rate has been on a downward trend. The VEC reported last week that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4% in August, down from 7% in the same month of 2020.
The state’s labor force also increased by 5,550 to almost 4.25 million in August, and the number of people reported as employed residents rose by 13,228 to almost 4.08 million.
Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained below the national rate, which fell from 5.4% to 5.2% in August.