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The number of individuals in Virginia receiving unemployment insurance benefits is essentially unchanged from last week, according to the latest weekly claims data from the Virginia Employment Commission. The number of unemployment filings had dropped 28% in the two weeks following July 25, but during the week ending Aug. 15 that downward trend came to an abrupt halt.

Across the state last week, 265,225 individuals filed a continued claim for unemployment benefits, representing workers who had been laid off previously and remain unemployed. An additional 15,151 initial claims, representing workers filing for claims for the first time after a job loss, were filed across the state. The combined number of claims represent 6.4% of Virginia’s labor force.

(Labor force data comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and was last measured at a state and local level in June.)

The number of Fauquier County residents filing claims also remained essentially unchanged from the previous week, with 1,448 county residents filing an initial or continued claim during the week ending Aug. 15, a week-over-week increase of seven. However, in keeping with trends that span most of the pandemic, far fewer county residents as a percentage of the labor force than for the state overall. Last week, the combined claims total represented 4.0% of the county’s labor force.

Virginia applies for federal funding to supplement benefits

The latest claims data comes as Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday that Virginia would seek to apply for additional federal funds to supplement unemployment benefits for state workers. A federal program created by the CARES Act that supplemented state benefits by up to $600 per week expired last month.

The new federal money, made available from disaster relief funds by President Donald Trump, could mean an additional $300 per week for each individual receiving state unemployment benefits.

Virginia administration officials are exploring adding another $100 of state benefits to the extra federal money, which was originally a requirement of the Trump administration’s program before it reversed course and offered the $300 supplement without the additional $100 commitment from the state. The $100-per-worker commitment would cost the state $45 million per week, according to Virginia Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne.

Only individuals receiving more than $100 in weekly unemployment benefits would qualify for supplemental federal and state payouts. According to state officials, the new benefits would take at least three weeks to reach unemployed Virginia residents if the application is approved by the federal administration.

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