Initial jobless claims in Arkansas for the week ending March 28 were 26,944, nearly triple the amount reported in the previous week. Jobless claims nationwide totaled 6.64 million, an increase of 3.34 million from the previous week’s revised level, according to Thursday’s (April 2) U.S. Department of Labor report.
Arkansas’ revised total for the week ending March 14, according to the Labor Department, was 9,275, more than six times the 1,382 in the previous week. The increase in the state’s jobless claims has skyrocketed roughly 1,850% in two weeks.
The dramatic rise in claims is the direct result of responses to efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, which include the closure of non-essential businesses and social distancing measures that have essentially shut down many service sector and tourism-based businesses.
As of Thursday morning, COVID-19 cases in Arkansas stood at 624, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. That total has almost doubled in the past week. There have been 10 deaths and 45 recoveries in the state.
There were 216,722 U.S. cases and 5,137 deaths in the U.S. as of Thursday morning.
“The COVID-19 virus continues to impact the number of initial claims,” the Labor Department said in a statement accompanying Thursday’s report. “Nearly every state providing comments cited the COVID-19 virus. States continued to identify increases related to the services industries broadly, again led by accommodation and food services.
“However, state comments indicated a wider impact across industries. Many states continued to cite the health care and social assistance, and manufacturing industries, while an increasing number of states identified the retail and wholesale trade and construction industries.”
All states reported increases in initial claims for the week ending March 28. The largest increases were in Pennsylvania (+362,012), Ohio (+189,263), Massachusetts (+141,003), Texas (+139,250) and California (+128,727). The smallest increases were in the Virgin Islands (+79), South Dakota (+1,571), West Virginia (+2,671), Vermont (+3,125), and Wyoming (+3,136).
“Similar to last week’s unemployment claims numbers, today’s report reflects the sacrifices American workers are making for their families, neighbors, and country in order to ‘slow the spread.’” U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia said in a statement. “The Administration continues to act quickly to address this impact on American workers. That includes a rule the Labor Department adopted [Wednesday] to implement the paid leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and the Department’s work with the States to make available the enhanced unemployment benefits provided in the CARES Act, which the President signed last week.
“That legislation also contains significant incentives for businesses to retain workers and continue paying them, which will put businesses and workers in a better position to resume work and re-boot the economy once the virus is contained.”
A new report issued Thursday from Bentonville think tank Heartland Forward suggests job losses will likely continue until the CARES Act federal stimulus package with provisions of personal payments and enhanced unemployment benefits kick in 2-3 weeks from now.
“Workers who have been furloughed, laid off, or had their hours reduced are being forced to cut back on spending, with the hopes that they can make until receiving these funds,” researchers Dave Shideler and Jonas Crews wrote in the report. “This will further decrease economic activity at the few restaurants and stores that may still be open. Estimates for total jobs lost due to coronavirus (through the end of June) range from 8 million to 47 million, though several economists are projecting between 14 and 20 million jobs will be lost.”