Capital Clicks

Unemployment claims increase as Iowa looks to reinstate work-search requirement

By: - August 21, 2020 11:15 am

(Illustration by iStock / Getty Images Plus)

The number of newly filed claims for unemployment benefits increased in Iowa last week, to 6,544 from 5,282.

Both numbers reflect the totals prior to any adjustments made by the U.S. Department of Labor. The previous week’s adjusted total of new claims is now 4,891.

The number of ongoing, weekly unemployment claims for the week ending Aug. 15 was 83,610, a decrease of 8,490 from the previous week.

The state has waived the traditional work-search requirement since the beginning of the pandemic, but that requirement will be reinstated on Sept. 8. Not all claimants will be required to begin work searches — including, for example, those who are receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits due to a medical condition or lack of child care. Those who will be required to begin work searches to claim benefits will be notified by the state.

As in all states, Iowa’s number of unemployment cases remains elevated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, initial filings ranged from 1,000 to 3,000. In April, as the pandemic worsened, they peaked at 64,194 in one week.

The $23,465,906 in benefits paid in Iowa last week included these industries with the most claims:

  • Manufacturing: 1,664
  • Self-employed, independent contractors: 887
  • Health care and social assistance: 608
  • Construction: 449
  • Accommodation and food service: 429

A total of of $7,881,600 in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefits, which were retroactive payments as the program ended July 25. A total of $1,580,831,143 was paid in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits was paid during the week ending Aug. 15.

A total of $4,412,626 in benefits was paid in Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) benefits for that same week.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits ended July 25 in Iowa, which means the $600 weekly additional benefit stopped.

Claimants are now seeing a corresponding decrease in their weekly benefit amount, but those who have exhausted the additional 13 weeks of PEUC benefits may now be eligible for State Extended Benefits announced in June.

Claimants should continue to file weekly claims so that their claims can be reviewed to determine eligibility for State Extended Benefits.

Those benefits may provide eligible claimants up to 13 weeks of additional unemployment benefits, though not everyone who qualified for PEUC is eligible for State Extended Benefits.

On Aug. 8, President Trump signed an order authorizing additional payments for some individuals receiving unemployment benefits. On Aug. 14, 2020, FEMA approved Iowa’s application to participate in the Lost Wages Assistance program. Iowans whose unemployment is the result of the pandemic, and who are eligible for at least $100 in benefits each week, will qualify for an additional $300 in weekly benefits retroactive to the week ending Aug. 1.

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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.