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Utah sees record in unemployment filings

Posted at 9:19 PM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-26 23:19:41-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The number of new claims filed for unemployment benefits in Utah was 19,591 for the week of March 15 to March 21, 2020.

A total of 11,321 unemployment insurance claimants actively filed weekly claims during that same week, these are individuals who were already receiving benefits prior to the significant impacts of COVID-19.

A total of $3,697,473 was paid in benefits.

“Clearly, the volume of claims has increased significantly, and also quickly,” said Kevin Burt, Unemployment Insurance Division director for the Utah Department of Workforce Services. “The Unemployment Insurance Division staff are working diligently to try to meet this high demand, understanding the significance of this benefit to those that are applying. It is important to note that many of the new claimants are still connected with their employer and expect to return with increased economic activity.”

The three industries that saw the highest percentage of claims this week, as self-identified by the claimant at the time of their filing, were Food Preparation and Serving (37%), Office and Administrative Support (9.3%) and Management (8.6%).

The five counties in Utah that had the highest number of individuals file new unemployment insurance claims were Salt Lake (47%), Utah (12.4%), Davis (7.1%), Washington (6.2%) and Weber (6.2%).

One of the many thousands of people who are now applying for unemployment is Brittney Nichol.

“I got laid off last week some other friends that I work with within my company got laid off as well and if this continues possibly my husband losing his job as well,” Nichol told FOX 13.

Nichol’s husband works in the hardest-hit industry for the COVID-19 Pandemic the foodservice industry.

The restaurant he works at is still open but Nichol is worried he soon may be out of work too.

“I felt that I was becoming a failure for my family that I couldn’t provide when something like this happened,” Nichol says “When filling out the forms it was asking why this happened and what I could’ve done to prevent it and… there really wasn’t anything I could have done.”

If an individual's employment has been impacted by COVID-19 they should click here.

When asked what she hopes the future holds Nichol told FOX 13 “Just if we can all abide by the rules just stay home the faster we can get out of us the faster we can go back to normal.”

There they will find regularly updated FAQs as well as workshops done twice daily providing information on how to apply for unemployment benefits, what temporary financial assistance may be available and tips for finding a new job. The page also includes an FAQ for employers with questions regarding unemployment insurance.

Kevin Burt joined Kerri and Dan on Good Day Utah to discuss the numbers which he called, "historic."