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

People line up outside the Utah Department of workforce Services Monday, April 13, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Congress, the Trump administration and the Federal Reserve have mounted the largest financial intervention in history a full-scale drive that includes mandating sick leave for some, distributing $1,200 checks to individuals, allocating rescue aid to employers and expanding unemployment benefits to try to help America survive the crisis. Yet those measures are only temporary. And for millions of newly unemployed, they may not be enough. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

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 about 11% of the eligible workforce.

“We have now received the same amount of claims in the last ten 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 many 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.

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