FALLS CHURCH, Va. – Nearly 150,000 Virginians filed unemployment claims in the last week, the third straight week of record-setting claims in reaction to the coronavirus outbreak.
The U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday that 149,758 claims were filed in the state in the week ending April 4. That's about a one-third increase over the previous week, which was itself record-setting.
Before the coronavirus forced so many businesses into stasis, weekly jobless claims in Virginia averaged around 2,600.
Virginia's jobless claims continued to accelerate even as the national number of 6.6. million claims essentially leveled off from the previous week.
In the last three weeks, more than 308,000 Virginians have applied for unemployment, according to the Labor Department. The real figure may be higher because the Virginia Employment Commission, like other states, has been overwhelmed by the volume of claims, and many applicants report difficulties in getting their claims filed and processed.
For context, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the size of the Virginia workforce at about 4.46 million. meaning that about 7% of Virginia workers have applied for unemployment in the last three weeks.
Also on Thursday, the Virginia Department of Health reported that coronavirus deaths in the state have exceeded 100 and positive tests for the virus have exceeded 4,000. A week ago, the health department reported 41 deaths and more than 1,700 positive cases.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The vast majority of people recover.