Virginia Unemployment Claims Spike as Businesses Temporarily Shut Down

Mar 19, 2020

Unemployment claims are skyrocketing in Virginia, doubling every day this week.

Last year, Virginia had about 24,000 unemployment claims. That works out to an average of 65 a day. That was when times were good.   This week, though, Virginia’s unemployment claims are skyrocketing — 400 on Monday, 2,000 on Tuesday, 4,000 on Wednesday and 8,000 reported Thursday afternoon.

Megan Healy in the governor’s office says state officials are waiving the one-week waiting period to get access to unemployment claims.  “So right when the person applies, we take all the information and then we direct deposit the funds into their account right away," Healy explains. "So they don’t have to sit out a week and then wait a week to actually get their check. They should be getting their check in the first week.” 

Jeanette Chapman at George Mason University says some industries have been hit harder than others, especially service industry jobs and people who essentially can’t work from home.   “Many businesses will decide to lay workers off in part so that they can actually get unemployment benefits rather than trying to furlough them or give them zero hours or whatever the alternative would be.”

The Virginia Employment Commission is also adding more server space to make sure everyone has access to the online unemployment claims as online traffic continues to grow.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.