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Utah unemployment numbers bad, but getting a little better

Posted at 5:43 PM, May 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-29 19:43:13-04

SALT LAKE CITY — For the week ending May 23, 5,455 Utahns applied for traditional unemployment insurance for the first time, according to numbers released by the state on Thursday.

That’s far from good news, because before March, it would have been the highest number of initial claims Utah had seen since such numbers have been kept. But Kevin Burt, director of the State Unemployment Insurance Division, says it marks a positive trend.

“Certainly to have seven weeks trending down is excellent,” said Burt.

That trend is best seen in weekly claims. 97,570 Utahns checked in last week and said they're still out of work, and they still need help. While that is a huge number, it’s quite a bit lower than Utah’s peak.

“That number peaked at about 107,000 or so,” said Burt.

Burt says that means about about 10,000 Utahns have gone back to work.

Along with Utahns who have applied for traditional unemployment insurance, 2,278 Utahns have applied for help under the new Pandemic Unemployment Insurance established by Congress to support self-employed workers.

All told, 194,013 Utahns applied for unemployment between March 15 and May 23.

The state has paid out nearly half a billion dollars, with more than half that amount coming from the federal government.