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Fewer jobless claims for second straight week, seasonal spike expected

Officials with the Utah Department of Workforce Services say they're seeing fewer new jobless claims, although numbers remain well above normal. (PHOTO: Screenshot from a Utah Department of Workforce Services press conference)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Officials with the Utah Department of Workforce Services say they’re seeing fewer new jobless claims, although numbers remain well above normal.

Jobless claims trending down… for now

Last week, 3,993 new claims were filed, which is down about 6% from the week prior. While still high, officials say it’s positive news to see a downward trend developing.
 
“We’ve seen an overall decrease in new claims now for two consecutive weeks,” explains Unemployment Insurance Division Director Kevin Burt.

He adds, for perspective, that number is about four times where it was at for most of last year.
 
“Last year, calendar year 2019, the average number of new claims the Unemployment Insurance Division took was 1,100,” he says.
 
32,869 continued claims were also filed for the week of October 18-24, with a total payout of $12,495,738 to eligible Utahns.

Rollercoaster ride?

Officials expect new claims to go back up soon, even though it may have nothing to do with the pandemic.
 
“We are expecting soon a seasonal increase,” explained Burt. “Unemployment insurance does have a seasonality to it.”
 
Simply put, some jobs aren’t able to continue in the winter months and many of those workers opt to file for unemployment. 
 
Again, officials with the Department of Workforce Services are stressing the importance of finding long-term financial stability before unemployment benefits run its course.
 
“It is critical to remember that while the unemployment benefit has been a great support to those whose employment has been disrupted by this pandemic, the benefit is time-limited, and active job search becomes increasingly more important for long-term stability,” said Burt.
 
The state unemployment outlook comes on the same day the Commerce Department reported the U.S. economy grew a record 33.1% annual rate last quarter. That figure, which was taken from July to September, is the fastest growth rate since the government began to track quarterly GDP data in 1947.
 
When focusing on the quarterly data, GDP grew 7.4% from the second to the third quarter, which is compared to a 9% decline between the first and second quarter.