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Mass. Jobless Claims Climb To 780,000

Klassy Kuts Barber Shop in Forest Hills. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Klassy Kuts Barber Shop in Forest Hills. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A seventh straight weekly burst pushed the amount of new unemployment insurance claims filed since March 15 to more than 780,000 in Massachusetts and 33 million nationwide, further evidence of the pandemic's ongoing economic damage.

Almost 3.2 million American workers and more than 55,000 in Massachusetts filed initial claims for jobless aid between April 26 and May 2, according to federal Department of Labor data published Thursday.

Both the state and national figures were the lowest one-week increases since the week ending March 21, which was the first span where the COVID-19 outbreak's impact on employment became clear. However, both were once again several times higher than any pre-pandemic levels observed.

Total claims since the start of the pandemic represent about 20.5% of the country's labor force in March.

The Department of Labor also reported national numbers on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which Congress created to make benefits available to previously ineligible Americans such as gig workers and the self-employed, for the first time in Thursday's release. More than 583,000 workers submitted claims for PUA aid in the week ending May 2 among the 23 states reporting data.

Last week, state officials reported receiving 171,598 claims for the PUA program between April 19 and April 25. The Baker administration plans to provide an estimate for the most recent time period later on Thursday.

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