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38,000 New Unemployment Claims Were Filed In Mass. Last Week

A sign announces the closure of the Massachusetts Unemployment Office, May 9, 2020, in Boston. (Michael Dwyer/AP)
A sign announces the closure of the Massachusetts Unemployment Office, May 9, 2020, in Boston. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

Newly released data from the U.S. Labor Department show more than 38,000 Massachusetts residents filed initial unemployment claims last week.

That's among 2.4 million nationally between May 10 and May 16. During that same span, about 2.2 million previously ineligible workers filed new claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that Congress created to make benefits available to gig workers, self-employed workers and others who do not qualify for unemployment insurance.

More than 43 million Americans have sought standard or expanded eligibility unemployment benefits since widespread shutdowns started in mid-March, according to the figures.

Last week was the ninth straight during which several million workers submitted new applications for jobless aid, although it had the lowest reported one-week total in claims since the spike began.

Since March 15, the country has now seen 38.6 million initial claims for standard unemployment aid and more than 4.8 million claims for the expanded PUA program, together representing more than a quarter of what the U.S. labor force was in February.

The ongoing elevated level of need comes as states around the country take steps toward reviving business activity that had been shuttered for months to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Federal labor officials reported another 38,328 claims for unemployment insurance in Massachusetts last week, bringing the state's nine-week total to about 864,000. State officials will release their own data later Thursday including estimates of PUA claims, which will offer a clearer picture of the employment situation.

On Friday, Massachusetts will release statewide job losses and the unemployment rate for the month of April.

State Labor Secretary Rosalin Acosta said her department has boosted its capacity to respond to the surge in applicants. She's also reminding people who are receiving aid through PUA that the payments are taxable.

"So if you are on PUA, please make sure that you're putting some money aside for taxes because at the end of the year, we're gonna send you a form and say you need to file your taxes and you need to claim this money," she said.

Tax deductions are not being taken from PUA automatically at this point.

With reporting from WBUR's Newscast Unit and State House News Service's Chris Lisinski

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