Sharp jump in new unemployment claims reported in New Hampshire

Number of filings rise 46% from the previous week

Ap 20107683994269New and continuing unemployment claims have increased over the last few weeks, unsettling news after last month’s unemployment rate dropped to 3%.

For the week ending April 10, 1,305 new state unemployment claims were filed, a 46% increase over the previous week. Continuing state claims for the week ending April 3 also rose more than 7%, to 23,247.

In addition, federal continuing claims for the week ending March 27 also rose, by nearly 12%, to 9,536. Most of them are self-employed individuals, but a good chunk are also people who have to stay home for Covid-related reasons, mainly to provide care to a dependent because or school or facility is still closed.

For the first time, the state Department of Employment Security provided a breakdown of the federal numbers. Some 14% of all claims – 5,694 – were filed by self-employed individuals though some, and 12% – 4,720 – were filed for dependent care reasons. (The numbers don’t quite add up because sometimes people file claims for several reasons.)

Since all this is happening in different weeks, and the number keeps going up and down, it’s hard to know whether this is just a timing fluke, or whether things have taken a turn for the worse.

In March, the state’s unemployment rate fell to 3%, down 0.3 percent from February, and up 0.3% from March 2020. New Hampshire also has half the national rate of 6%.

But the total labor force decreased slightly, so some of the drop in the rate could indicate that fewer people are bothering to look for work. Indeed, non-farm employment increased 3,200, to 648,000, a 0.5% half a percent increase. Most of those jobs have been service-related (2,600), indicating a small revival in the hospitality and retail industries (since there was no gain in professional and business services) but not in higher-paying manufacturing jobs.

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