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Last week 2,706 people filed for unemployment. This week it was nearly 18 times higher.

Nearly 47,000 people filed unemployment claims in Virginia last week, marking another grim record in the novel coronavirus pandemic. Within a week, the number of claims filed jumped nearly 18 times higher, from 2,706 claims last week to 46,885 this week.

The same effect is happening across the entire United States. Over 3 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, which made it the highest number of claims since October 1982, when 695,000 claims were filed. 

That number is projected to increase this summer, according to a study from the Economic Policy Institute, with millions of jobs lost. Unemployment claims are expected double.

A release from the Department of Labor showed that practically every state, including Virginia, cited COVID-19 impacts on employment. Jobs that have been affected the most are the service industry, which includes restaurants. Other industries include healthcare, social assistance, arts, entertainment and recreation as well as manufacturing. 

On March 24, Gov. Ralph Northam called for the closure of all non-essential businesses across the state in order to curb the general public’s exposure to the virus. As the pandemic persists, state officials are encouraging residents to file for unemployment, even if they were previously rejected. 

Unemployment assistance applications are available online and over the phone, and Dogwood has a guide on what to do here. In order to apply, you’ll need your social security number, employer name and dates of most recent employment. If you’re not a U.S. citizen, you can use your “Alien Registration” number to apply.

“We know that this situation is causing businesses to close and people to lose their jobs and their income. We are working to help Virginia workers and businesses that are affected,” Northam said in an interview with CBS 6.

Before COVID-19, the state’s unemployment rate was at an all-time low of 2.6%. In January, Virginia set a record high for the number of employed people, and had the second lowest rate of joblessness among other southeastern states.

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