New Mass. Jobless Claims Still at Historically High Levels

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — New unemployment claims remained at inflated levels last week, even as the weekly applications continued a gradual deceleration both nationally and statewide from historic rates of growth.

In Massachusetts, state labor officials on Thursday reported receiving another 23,535 initial applications for traditional unemployment insurance between July 5 and July 11, a decrease of 3,084 from the prior week.

While the overall trend is heading in a positive direction, the rate of improvement has been sluggish as the state proceeds into the third phase of a plan to revive business and public activity that was curbed while COVID-19 cases were rising and since then.

The latest weekly total was the lowest in the 17 weeks since the COVID pandemic prompted a tidal wave of layoffs, but it still reflects a comparatively strained economic outlook: since 1987, only five other weeks before the outbreak hit recorded larger numbers of new unemployment claims than last week.

The federal Department of Labor reported receiving another 1.3 million claims nationwide last week, which was similarly both the lowest total since mid-March and still nearly double any pre-pandemic week.

Since March 15, roughly when the virus and the mandatory shutdowns it prompted began affecting employment numbers, American labor officials have received about 65 million applications for either traditional or expanded eligibility unemployment benefits. Over the same span, Massachusetts officials reported more than 1.7 million applications for either program.

By Chris Lisinski, State House News Service

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