Jobless claims in California soared last week and climbed to their highest levels in a month, an ominous sign that the state’s moribund economy has yet to recover from coronavirus-linked ailments.
An estimated 181,600 California workers filed initial claims for jobless benefits during the week that ended on Jan. 9, which was up 20,600 from the 161,000 claims that were filed in the week ending on Jan. 2, according to a federal report released Thursday.
The 181,600 initial unemployment claims statewide represent the highest weekly total in about a month. During the week that ended on Dec. 12, California workers filed 202,600 first-time claims for unemployment benefits, the U.S. Labor Department reported.
Unemployment claims have remained at elevated levels since mid-March, ever since state and local government agencies launched wide-ranging business shutdowns.
Government officials gambled that the shutdowns would halt the spread of the coronavirus. Cases of the deadly bug have surged, which spawned a fresh round of business closures.
The state Employment Development Department has struggled to keep up with the record numbers of unemployment claims.
“The high numbers of California claims directly reflect the increased number of COVID cases, economic lockdowns, and ongoing declines for in-person economic activities,” said Michael Bernick, an employment attorney with law firm Duane Morris and a former director of the EDD.
In the United States, first-time unemployment claims, adjusted for seasonal fluctuations, totaled 965,000 for the week that ended Jan. 9. That was an increase of 181,000 from the total for the week ending Jan. 2 of 784,000.