Over 27,000 more New Hampshire unemployment claims filed last week

Two-week total now tops 56,000

Some 27,454 New Hampshire workers and business owners filed initial unemployment claims in the week ending March 28, bringing the number of claims for benefits in the Granite State to 56,833 in two weeks, according to the U.S. Labor Department, which released the data Thursday.

The weekly number represents a decline compared to the previous week, ending March 21, which the federal government apparently adjusted upward from the original 21,878 to 29,379. Even before that adjustment, the state had the highest jump of unemployment in the nation. This week, the state was one of the four states with a decrease, albeit the smallest one.

Either way this is a massive increase in unemployment. A year ago, there were 516 weekly claims. Two weeks ago, 642. Before this two-week deluge there were less than 20,000 unemployed. Now there are nearly triple that number.

It is not clear how much of New Hampshire’s increase had to do with worsening economic conditions and how much from the early expansion of eligibility. Thanks to Gov. Chris Sununu’s March 17 emergency order, starting the week ending March 21, business owners – including independent contractors – were allowed to file for unemployment, as well as other categories, such as farm workers, domestic servants and student interns. The order also included those who have been forced to leave their jobs because they had to self-quarantine, to take care of someone sick with the virus or children who are no longer in school.

The federal CARES Act is providing an extra $600 a week to unemployment claimants on top of state benefits, which averaged $333 a week in New Hampshire before March 14. The state maximum is $427. The extra money will begin being included with claims filed this week.

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