New weekly unemployment filings dip below 1,000 in Vermont for first time since March

A landing page on the Vermont Department of Labor website features the coronavirus and links to unemployment benefits, on April 29, 2020.

New unemployment claims fell below 1,000 for the first time since Vermont confirmed its first case of COVID-19 in early March.

While initial claims into the state’s unemployment system have neared pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels, ongoing claims remain in the tens of thousands. As of Aug. 13, the latest initial claim number was 904, while continuing claims were 31,783.

Initial claims peaked in early April with 16,474 unemployment claims, while weeks later there were over 76,000 continuing claims filed into the state’s unemployment system.

Prior to state-wide closures of businesses and schools, initial and continuing jobless claims hovered around 500, and 5,000, respectively.

High unemployment leads to more problems for residents

In spite of declining numbers, problems associated with the state’s unemployment system have continued to burden Vermonters, who have reported long wait times on the phone, denied log-ins and inconsistent answers from call center staff. 

Some Vermonters have been waiting for weeks and months for for their unemployment checks after the the state flagged their claims.

Coronavirus: Ongoing unemployment claim issues frustrate Vermonters

Starting in August, Vermonters are no longer receiving the additional $600 per week in additional federal unemployment benefits as Republicans and Democrats are at a standstill over a new package of COVID-9 related aid.

There is no timeline on when additional payments proposed by President Trump might kick in.

More claims could be on the horizon

The state could potentially face more unemployment claims in the near future. An estimated 1,111 Vermont employees of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received furlough notices in early July due to budget shortfalls. Those furloughs would take effect starting Aug. 30.

For more: St. Albans, Vermont hit hard by news of immigration furloughs

Contact Ethan Bakuli at (802) 556-1804 or ebakuli@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BakuliEthan.

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