New jobless claims at highest level since June


BOSTON (SHNS) – Confirmed COVID-19 cases are not the only pandemic-era numbers on the rise again: total new unemployment claims in Massachusetts last week reached the highest level in more than five months.

State officials reported receiving 52,087 new applications for standard unemployment insurance benefits between Nov. 8 and Nov. 14, and another 8,122 claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that expanded eligibility to gig workers and others.

The claims across the two programs surpassed 60,000 for the first time since the week ending June 6, when Massachusetts was still early in a multi-step plan to revive business activity following months of forced shutdowns.

Counting only the traditional claims, last week’s total was the highest since May 2. The figures are nowhere near the tidal wave of claims — more than 100,000 per week for four weeks straight — that crashed in late March and early April, but they reflect a uptick in the need for joblessness aid as Massachusetts copes with a second surge of the highly infectious virus.

Labor officials plan on Friday to release monthly unemployment rate and jobs data for October, a month that saw a steadily increasing amount of weekly benefit claims.

The Massachusetts unemployment rate fell to 9.6 percent in September after five months in double digits.

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