Iowa’s jobless claims appear to be leveling off

    Architectural billings are down, signaling a sluggish construction economy. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    The number of Iowans collecting unemployment benefits, while still at a historically high level, now appears to be leveling off.

    The number of continuing, weekly unemployment claims in Iowa is now 187,375 — a 2% decrease from the previous week’s total of 191,257, according to Iowa Workforce Development.

    Unemployment benefit payments totaled $50.9 million for the week of May 10, which was down from the $52.9 million paid out the previous week.

    At the same time, the number of newly filed claims for benefits continued its downward trend.

    The number of new claims filed during the week of May 10 totaled 13,040, IWD reported Thursday. Last week, IWD reported that for the week of May 3, a total of 16,735 new claims for unemployment benefits had been filed.

    That was a significant reduction from the previous week, when 24,693 initial claims for unemployment were filed, and the week before when 28,827 new claims came in.

    Although the rate of new claims for unemployment represents a dramatic reduction from early April, when Iowa was fielding more than 67,000 new claims per week, the drop in new claims is at least partially due to the fact that so many Iowans were already collecting jobless benefits.

    For the week of May 10, the following industries had the most claims:

    • Manufacturing: 4,679
    • Self-employed, independent contractors, etc.: 1,251
    • Health care and social assistance: 1,216
    • Retail: 827
    • Accommodation and food service: 785

    A total of $106,809,600 in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefits was paid during the week of May 10. Separately, a total of $7,589,385 was paid in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits during the week of May 3.

    WalletHub, a credit-monitoring website owned by Evolution Finance Inc., recently reviewed state-by-state increases in unemployment claims since mid-March and then ranked the states to determine which of had been hurt the most by COVID-19 in terms of job losses.

    By that measure, Iowa was among the states least affected, placing 43rd on the list of 50 states and Washington, D.C.

    The states most affected were, in order, Florida, Georgia, Washington, South Dakota and New Hampshire.

    Clark Kauffman
    Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.