21% of Virginia unemployment claims filed by Hampton Roads residents


A notice of closure is posted at The Great Frame Up in Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., Thursday, April 2, 2020. The coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak has triggered a stunning collapse in the U.S. workforce with millions of people losing their jobs in the past two weeks and economists warn unemployment could reach levels not seen since the Depression, as the economic damage from the crisis piles up around the world. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — New data from the Virginia Employment Commission shows that 21% of all initial unemployment claims filed in Virginia in the last week of March were filed by Hampton Roads residents.

Initial unemployment filings in the United States reached record highs in March as the coronavirus pandemic began to take a toll on the health and economic prosperity of Americans.

An initial claim is the first claim filed by an employee after they lose their job.

A total of 112,497 Virginians filed initial claims for unemployment during the week of March 28. Of those, 24,057 initial unemployment claims were filed by Hampton Roads residents. This means that a little more than 21% of all initial unemployment claims filed in Virginia during that time were filed by Hampton Roads residents.

Of note, the Department of Labor originally reported that 114,104 Virginians filed initial unemployment claims during the week of March 28; however, they revised that number in an April 9 news release, decreasing it by 1,607 initial claims filed.

The numbers also show that initial filings for unemployment claims in Hampton Roads are on the rise. 13,112 more people filed for unemployment benefits in the week of March 28 than the prior week, according to economists at Old Dominion University.

“These estimates illustrate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated social distancing measures on employment in the region,” economists with ODU’s Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy wrote in a news release.

No city in Hampton Roads was spared from rising initial unemployment claim filings.

A total of 7,386 Virginia Beach residents filed initial unemployment claims in the week of March 28, compared to 3,314 initial filings for benefits the week prior. The number of initial filings in Norfolk nearly doubled week-to-week, with 3,446 people filing for benefits in the week of March 28, according to ODU economists.

ODU economists estimate that Hampton Roads’ unemployment rate rose from 3.3% in January to 7.4% in March. They believe layoffs will continue to rise, and that the unemployment rate will surpass 10% by the end of May.

While initial unemployment numbers largely reflected layoffs in the leisure and hospitality industries, ODU’s economists ares starting to see job loss in manufacturing and health care.

ODU’s economists said that Sentara Healthcare’s recent announcement that they developed in-house COVID-19 testing is positive news for Hampton Roads because it will contribute to the suppression of the disease.

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