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Initial claims up, continuing claims fall as employment picture still unsettled

Continuing unemployment claims fell for the first time in three months in Prince Edward County for the week ending June 6, but initial claims increased for the first time in three weeks, showing that while many people are returning to work, jobs are still being lost on a weekly basis.

Initial claims rose from to 70 from 64 the previous week after falling by 13 the week before. Initial claims also rose in Lunenburg, Charlotte and Cumberland counties. Buckingham County was the only place to see a drop in initial claims with the number falling from 30 to 24.

Overall, Virginia saw initial claims fall by 6.8%. The total number of unemployment claims in the state from mid-March to the week ending June 6 was 822,300. That is nearly equal to all claims filed from 2015 to mid-March of this year.

One factor that could cause a  rise in initial claims in the coming weeks is the end of the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Employers who received funds from the PPP program could not lay off employees for eight weeks as a term of the loan. The first group of PPP recipients are expected to run out of funds in mid to late June. Companies who have been receiving PPP funds will have to determine if they want to continue paying all their employees on their own or face staffing reductions.

The good news in Prince Edward County is the reduction in the continuing claims numbers. Continuing claims fell from 969 to 966. It was not a huge reduction but certainly a surprise reversal after 12 weeks of increases that drove continuing claims from 62 the week ending March 14 to a high of 969 the week ending May 30. The decrease shows some of those on the unemployment rolls are returning to their former jobs or finding new jobs.

Continuing claims also fell by one claim in Buckingham County. The slight decrease from 461 to 460 was the first decrease since the week ending March 14 in Buckingham. Continuing claims fell in Lunenburg County from 261 to 252. Continuing claims remained steady in Charlotte County at 348. Cumberland County saw its third consecutive week of increases in continuing claims moving from 215 to 218.

U.S. continued claims for the week ending May 30 declined slightly to 20.9 million. Initial claims for unemployment nationwide for the week ending June 6 was 1.5 million, the lowest weekly total since the pandemic began.