Unemployment at 165k, but new claims down as Utah reopens

A man walks past the Utah Department of workforce Services, in Salt Lake City, Utah, April 9, 2020 | Associated Press photo by Rick Bowmer, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — More people have now applied for unemployment in Utah during the coronavirus pandemic than the previous three years combined, though the number of new claims are decreasing as the state economy reopens, officials said Thursday.

Nearly 5,500 more people applied for unemployment last week, a 12% drop from the week before. Since business shutdowns aimed at halting the spread of the virus began in mid-March, the state has processed nearly 165,000 claims, or about 11% of the eligible workforce.

“We have now received the same amount of claims in the last 10 weeks that were filed over the previous three years,” said Kevin Burt, Unemployment Insurance Division director for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, in a statement.

Still, there are other signals workers are getting back on the job. Almost 10,000 people ended their unemployment claim on May 16, an increase from the week before, officials said.

The coronavirus causes flu-like symptoms that most patients recover from within weeks, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can be deadly. More than 100 people have now died of the virus in Utah.

In other developments:

— Public schools are expected to reopen to students this fall and the state school board is beginning to develop guidelines for how to hold classes safely. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has issued an executive order allowing schools to open, though specific areas could make their own decisions if conditions remain potentially hazardous to students’ health.

Written by LINDSAY WHITEHURST, Associated Press.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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