11,800 more initial New Hampshire jobless claims filed last week

But total continues decline in weekly filings

Nhes LogoAdd another 11,834 initial claims to the growing total of New Hampshire workers and business owners seeking unemployment benefits.

The preliminary total released Thursday morning, for claims filed in the week ending May 2, is a little over 3,000 fewer than the adjusted total from the previous week, but it is still 200 times more than the number of filings in mid-March, when the coronavirus pandemic struck the state’s economy. Since March 14, more than 170,000 unemployment claims have been filed.

That doesn’t mean all of those people are receiving benefits. Some may have not gotten them yet. Others may have been denied. Others might have been called back to work found other jobs.

Business closings in the wake of the pandemic and the governor’s stay-at-home order are the main reason for the deluge of claims. On March 17, New Hampshire was one of the first states to allow business owners to apply. A few weeks later, the federal government adopted a similar expansion, increased the minimum benefit and tacked on $600 extra every week until the end of July.

Nationally, some 3.2 million people filed claims last week, down by close to 700,000, bringing the total number to 33 million new claims over seven weeks.

The New Hampshire’s decline is slightly deeper than national decline last week. Previously, the state’s decline was nearly double the national rate.

“We are cautiously optimistic about our rate of decline,” Employment Security Deputy Commissioner Richard Lavers told the Governor’s Re-opening Task Force Monday.

That may be because the state rolled out its expansion of benefits early, he said, and “had an earlier spike. That’s a positive sign, but if you told me that I’d be happy with 14,000 claims in a single week, I would have thought you were crazy.”

However, a few weeks ago the federal government issued general warnings that states could lose federal assistance if they do not adhere to federal eligibility requirements for unemployment – guidance “which had given me sleepless nights,” said Lavers

The new guidance: An employee cannot refuse to go back to work because they are concerned about getting sick from the virus. But if a healthcare provider, or your employer or a government official advised you to quarantine, you don’t need a note. Self-certifying is good enough.

Also, even during the summer, a person can continue to collect benefits while taking care of a school-age child, if normal summer childcare arrangements – such as not having day care or a summer camp – are no longer available.

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