The number of Iowans who received unemployment last week reached a record 206,668, new state data shows. Source: Iowa Workforce Development

More than 15,000 Iowans last week filed first-time jobless claims, the lowest number since the state was essentially shut down in mid-March to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

New data released by Iowa Workforce Development shows that 15,411 unemployed Iowans filed unemployment insurance claims during the week that ended May 9, 37% fewer than the 24,693 new claims filed the previous week.

The total number of Iowans who filed unemployment claims last week reached 206,668, slightly more than the 206,051 who filed claims during the week that ended May 2.

This week, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced plans to lift restrictions on restaurants and most retail establishments in 22 counties, including Polk and Dallas, beginning at 5 a.m. Friday. The lifting of the restrictions means that most businesses previously closed can begin reopening with the same social distancing and capacity restriction as now are occurring in Iowa’s 77 other counties.

The reopening of the state may mean laid-off workers could be recalled, a move that would help lower the number of jobless people in Iowa.

The new jobless data released today by Iowa Workforce Development shows: 
• 6,065 people who worked in manufacturing filed first-time jobless claims last week. Since the start of the statewide shutdown, 18%, or 47,051, of the newly jobless have been from the manufacturing sector. In addition, 17.4%, or 45,601, of the first-time filers have been self-employed or independent contractors and 17.4%, or 45,503, have been from the accommodation and food services industries.
• $52.9 million in jobless benefits was paid out of the state’s unemployment compensation trust fund.  
• $108.2 million was paid from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation fund that was part of the $2 trillion federal coronavirus relief package. Since April 4, $547.3 million in additional benefits has been paid to Iowans from the federal fund. The additional benefit is $600 a week.
• $7 million was paid to 13,075 self-employed Iowans through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance fund.

Nationally, 2.98 million new unemployment claims were filed last week, down slightly from the previous week when more than 3.1 million new claims were filed, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The advance seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the week ending May 2 was 15.7%, according to the labor department.

Related coverage: State analyst: Iowa can pay unemployment claims for about 30 weeks