Utah unemployment 4-week spike unprecedented as new program goes online

Posted at 7:26 PM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 21:26:45-04

There’s no sugarcoating the unemployment picture in Utah. 24 thousand new claims this week caps a four week period during which more than 105 thousand Utahns filed for unemployment for the first time.

Compare that to all of 2019, when 62,877 Utahns filed initial claims.

In the coming weeks, the numbers are almost certain to rise because the state Department of Workforce Services has just gone online with the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that allows gig workers, freelancers and other self-employed Utahns to file for unemployment.

If you fall into one of those categories, go to and click on the “Am I Eligible” button. The tricky part: If the site tells you that you are NOT eligible or that you are eligible for $0, then you will go through the process of applying for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

The reason for the difference: traditional unemployment is paid for partly from a trust fund built by contributions from employers. The federal CARES act provides funding for the new program.