Weekly jobless claims surge in Iowa as virus takes toll

IOWA CITY – Iowa residents filed more than 40,000 claims for unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus pandemic forced many workers to lose jobs and stay home.

The Department of Labor reported Thursday that nationwide, claims for jobless benefits surged to a record 3.3 million in the week that ended March 21.

The numbers show that the surge extended to Iowa, where initial claims zoomed past 40,000. That was up from 2,229 reported in Iowa the week before.

Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend said earlier this week that the state was receiving a staggering number of claims.

Her department says workers in the hospitality, food services and health care industries made the most claims. Others came from education and retail.

Gov. Kim Reynolds acknowledged that the increased traffic had caused technical glitches on the website where claimants can file online. Wait times at the state’s customer service center have also been longer than normal.

Workers who have been laid off or forced to stay home to quarantine themselves or take care of family members can receive benefits if they are otherwise eligible.

Reynolds has ordered the temporary closure of schools, bars, theaters, casinos and barber shops, among other businesses, to stop the spread of the virus.


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