Unemployment claims continue relentless climb, total U.S. filings surpass 30 million since COVID-19 outbreak

ND unemployment claims since pandemic now top 67,000

The Fargo office of Job Service North Dakota is seen Thursday, April 16, at 1350 32nd St. S. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO — The number of people in the United States filing unemployment insurance claims continued its relentless climb last week, with total filings over the past six weeks now surpassing 30 million, according to U.S. Labor Department numbers released Thursday, April 30.

On the state level, as of Thursday, about 67,833 North Dakotans had filed unemployment claims since mid-March, with about 7,095 of those claims filed during the week that ended April 25.

The economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 outbreak has caused job losses not seen since the Great Depression, when the U.S. unemployment rate reached about 25% in 1933.

ADVERTISEMENT reported Thursday that the 30.3 million people who had filed initial unemployment insurance claims since mid-March, about 3.8 million of them last week, represent about 18.6% of the U.S. labor force, though an official unemployment rate that takes into account job losses since mid-March was not available Thursday.

Past high-water mark years for the U.S. unemployment rate include 1982 and 2009, when the rate reached about 10%.

Numbers released by the state of Minnesota Thursday showed that about 534,929 people had filed initial unemployment insurance claims since mid-March, with about 45,900 of those being filed during the week that ended April 25..

Since mid-March, about 2,000 unemployment insurance claims had been filed in Clay County, a number that represents roughly 6% of the 2019 annual labor force number for Clay County, according to the state of Minnesota.

In Mahnomen County, about 650 people had filed for unemployment since mid-March, nearly 28% of the county's 2019 annual labor force number.

A rough computation taking into account recent unemployment insurance filings in North Dakota and Minnesota suggests unemployment rates in both states could be above 18%, though that is not an official number.


The job picture in North Dakota could see improvement soon, however, as shelter-in-place rules are changing.

Starting Friday, May 1, many businesses that had been operating with restrictions will be allowed to ease those restrictions in the wake of Gov. Doug Burgum's decision to loosen limits on how restaurants and other businesses may operate during the current pandemic .

Numbers released by Job Service North Dakota Thursday show that the category of jobs reporting the highest number of unemployment insurance claims last week was manufacturing with 1,346, followed by the mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction category with 984.

After that, categories with the most claims included health care and social assistance with 784; accommodation and food services with 642, and retail trade, with 581.

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at
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