Initial jobless claims here rise again

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After a sharp drop the week before, initial claims for unemployment benefits in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region climbed again in the seven-day period ended April 25.

The latest numbers released by the state Labor Department show 9,786 new claims, up from 8,503 in the week ended April 18. Over the previous four-week period, the filings totaled 18,808, 18,523, 25,037 and 4,881, respectively.

The Labor Department also released year-over-year data for the period from March 14 to April 25. In 2020, initial claims in the Finger Lakes region totaled 86,355—up 79,705, or 1,199 percent, from 6,650 in the same period a year ago. 

The state defines the labor market here as metropolitan Rochester—Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Wayne, Genesee, Livingston and Yates counties—plus Seneca and Wyoming counties.

Roughly two-thirds of the region’s initial claims in the latest period occurred in Monroe County. There were 6,049 new filings in the county, up from 5,278 the week before and 1,272 a year earlier. Filings totaled 1,014 in Ontario and Yates counties. (The department aggregated the data for both counties because one of them—presumably the much smaller Yates County—did not meet the disclosure threshold.)

Western New York—the Buffalo metro area plus Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties—and other upstate labor markets also reported higher initial-claims figures this week. New York City did as well; only Long Island saw new filings decline.

Nationwide, the U.S. Labor Department’s latest weekly report showed another 3.8 million workers filed for unemployment benefits. Since March 21, the number of initial unemployment claims has soared to more than 30 million.

In a hopeful sign, the latest increase was less than the 4.4 million filings a week ago, 5.2 million in the week ended April 11, 6.6 million filings in the week ended April 4 and the record 6.9 million filings in the week ended March 28.

Paul Ericson is Rochester Beacon executive editor. All Rochester Beacon coronavirus articles are collected here.

3 thoughts on “Initial jobless claims here rise again

  1. I think we are vastly underestimating the number of unemployed here. Why? Because I am STILL hearing from many friends who have tried to apply with no success. The state unemployment website and call center are still overwhelmed and they simply cannot file without the system failing

  2. It would be helpful to include the working population in the Finger Lakes Region to cast this as a percent increase in unemployment.

    • Thanks for the question. The initial-claims figures since the start of the pandemic represent 18 to 20 percent of the metro labor force of 525,000 to 547,000 (depending on whether you look at civilian labor force or slightly larger non-farm labor force). There were roughly 27,000 people unemployed here in February. If you add that number to the initial claims since mid-March (now totaling more than 100,000), it would suggest a current unemployment rate that is nearing 25 percent.

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