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Unemployment rate up nearly 1,400% in a short time in Utah

Mar 26, 2020, 9:29 AM | Updated: 12:04 pm
Utah Unemployment...
New information from the Utah Department of Workforce Services shows that unemployment claims across the state are up nearly 1,400. Photo:Getty Images

SALT LAKE CITY –Utah’s Department of Workforce Services released new numbers of those filing for unemployment benefits in Utah.

The department reports that over the week of March 15 to March 21, 2020 there were 19,591 new filings.

“Clearly, the volume of claims has increased significantly, and also quickly,” said Kevin Burt, Unemployment Insurance Division director for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, in an interview with Dave & Dujanovic on KSL NewsRadio. “The Unemployment Insurance Division staff are working diligently to try to meet this high demand, understanding the significance of this benefit to those that are applying. It is important to note that many of the new claimants are still connected with their employer and expect to return with increased economic activity.”

Burt told KSL NewsRadio that they’re considering this jump differently than they would at another time.

“This one is a little bit different, because these individuals are currently unemployed, but we’re considering them a job attached.

“What that means is that the expectation is that they return to work so it’s similar to being furloughed, but right now they’re not getting income,” he said.

Burt says that while these workers are out of a job, unemployment will provide some replacement for the wages lost until the economy bounces back and they can return to work.

The department says that three industries that saw the highest percentage of claims this week, were Food Preparation and Serving (37%), Office and Administrative Support (9.3%) and Management (8.6%).

They also say that Salt Lake (47%), Utah (12.4%), Davis (7.1%), Washington (6.2%) and Weber (6.2%) counties were the hardest hit.

The department says if your job has been impacted by COVID-19, visit jobs.utah.gov/covid19 where they are regularly updating information and offering twice-daily workshops on how to apply for unemployment benefits. 

Burt says forms to file for unemployment can be found on their website and that after filing, there is no reason to call the department.

“We understand that there’s an immediate need for these benefits. But if they can have a little bit of patience, we’ll contact them if we have questions. But if we’re able to not have to man those phones and be able to process those claims, it’ll help us get the benefit out quicker. Which is about 14 to 21 days.”

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Unemployment rate up nearly 1,400% in a short time in Utah