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Unemployment claims continue downward trend in Iowa

By: - January 21, 2021 5:49 pm

A proposal in the Iowa House would reduce unemployment benefits starting in 2022. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The number of new unemployment claims filed in Iowa decreased again last week, as did the number of claims related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Iowa Workforce Development reported Thursday that for the week ending Jan. 16, there were 6,785 new claims for unemployment benefits filed, a decrease of 581 from last week’s adjusted numbers.

The number of ongoing weekly unemployment claims filed last week totaled 46,694, which was a decrease of 1,859 from the previous week.

IWD noted that November through February are typically the months in which Iowa sees the greatest number of unemployment claims, due to seasonal layoffs in construction, agriculture, landscaping and manufacturing.

For the week ending Jan. 16, almost 64% of claimants indicated their claims were not related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is a decrease from the 68% reported the previous week.

The U.S. Department of Labor adjusted last week’s new-claims total downward from 7,366, a decrease of 272, and the ongoing claims were reduced by 898 from the originally reported total of 48,553.

IWD reminded Iowans on Thursday that the state’s IowaWORKS Centers are not providing in-person services. Customers are encouraged to log onto IowaWORKS.gov or the mobile application to continue their work-search activities while collecting unemployment.

On Dec. 27, the former president signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, reauthorizing and extending the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program.

IWD has now received the implementing guidance for these programs from the United States Department of Labor (USDOL), and is distributing payments under those programs to eligible claimants. The agency says there is no need for Iowans to call IWD or reapply for those benefits.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 also created the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program.  IWD says it is still working on the extensive system programming needed to distribute payments to eligible claimants.  More information about the MEUC program will be provided on the IWD website as it becomes available.

For the week ending Jan. 16, unemployment insurance benefit payments totaled $15,333,230.

The following industries had the most claims:

  • Construction: 1,327
  • Manufacturing: 974
  • Self-employed and independent contractors: 964
  • Retail: 546
  • Health care and social assistance: 461

IWD says that next week it will transition from Bank of America unemployment debit card payments to the U.S. Bank ReliaCard. This change only affects those who have opted for an unemployment insurance debit card versus unemployment insurance direct deposit.  Claimants who are currently using the Bank of America Debit Card to receive unemployment insurance benefits will be contacted by U.S. Bank in the coming weeks by mail.

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Clark Kauffman
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.

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