State reports rising number of unemployed Utahns

Local News

MURRAY, Utah (ABC4 News) – COVID-19 is changing Utahns way of life. Unemployment numbers are at record highs.

“It has been scary to think about. I know we have enough to get us through, you know 30-days of this,” says bartender Arianna Hone.

Hone and Eli Hays both work in the food service industry.

Newly released data shows 37 percent of unemployment insurance claims in the state come from their industry, the hardest hit.

Hays told ABC4 News he was furloughed before St. Patrick’s Day and filed for unemployment benefits.

Adding, “I got online pretty much as soon as I lost my job. It all seemed pretty straight forward.”

Before March 15th, the Utah Department of Workforce Services handled roughly 1,300 claims.

From March 15th through the 21st, nearly 19,600 new claims came in.

Utah’s Unemployment Insurance Claims Report (March 15-21)

“It actually increased by 14-hundred percent, and so it is the highest claim volume I’ve ever seen,” said Kevin Burt the Unemployment Insurance Division Director for the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

He said people will see high call-in wait times and advises applying online.

“There really is no need to call us, you file your claim, if we have any questions, we’ll call you,” he said.

Burt believes employers should be upfront and honest with employees.

“So then when they apply, we know their intention is to return, and we will do what is job attachment. We will attach them to that employer and not require them to job search,” he said. “But if the employer is not going to be able too; they need to be honest with that employee, and the employee can apply for unemployment, still receive that unemployment benefit but it is in their best interest to possibly look for other opportunities or jobs that are currently available.”

Matt Parks is a manager with Thistle and Thyme who recently filed for unemployment benefits. He hopes he can still manage a team when the pandemic is over.

“As a salary manager, you kind of assume to some extent your job is kind-of safe,” he said.

Office administrator support and management like him wrap-up the top three hardest groups recently hit by unemployment.

“It would be nice if everything was over by Easter, but I think the reality of it is that is not the case,” said Parks.

The states unemployment report shows the top five counties with the highest number of people who filed for unemployment were:
Salt Lake – 47%
Utah – 12.4%
Davis – 7.1%
Washington – 6.2%
Weber – 6.2

There is something you should know if you wait to file unemployment.

Burt said, “We are seeing similarly high volumes this week as we did last week”

The federal unemployment benefits included in the $2-trillion coronavirus bill, the $600 will need to be voted on by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump before it can be distributed.

“The benefits are coming,” said Burt. “There are going to be some steps before they can actually be implemented.”

If you need to file for unemployment insurance benefits, please visit jobs.utah.gov/covid19​.

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