The number of Iowans who filed unemployment claims last week slipped to 200,415, new state data shows. Source: Iowa Workforce Development

The number of Iowans filing unemployment claims saw its first weekly decline since mid-March when restaurants, bars, shopping malls and other retail businesses were temporarily closed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.  

New unemployment data released today by Iowa Workforce Development shows that 200,415 Iowans filed jobless claims during the week that ended on Saturday, a 3% decline from the previous week. Since mid-March, when the state-ordered shutdown began, the total number of jobless Iowans has climbed weekly, reaching a record high of 206,668 during the week that ended on May 9.  

About two weeks ago, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds began lifting restrictions, allowing retail and other establishments to begin reopening with social distancing and capacity restrictions. This week, Reynolds announced that movie theaters, zoos, wedding reception venues and museums can reopen on Friday. Bars and other establishments that serve alcohol can reopen on May 28 as long as restrictions are followed.

State officials have said they hope unemployment claims will begin to decline as workers are recalled to their jobs.

The number of first-time jobless claims filed last week fell to 13,040, the lowest number since March 14 when 2,229 Iowans filed initial claims. The state shutdown began March 17. 

The data released today by Iowa Workforce Development also shows: 
• 4,679 people who worked in manufacturing filed first-time jobless claims last week. Since mid-March, 16.5%, or 51,730, of the newly jobless have been from the manufacturing sector. In addition, 15%, or 46,852, of the first-time filers have been self-employed or independent contractors and 14.7%, or 46,288, have been from the accommodation and food services industries.
• $50.9 million in jobless benefits last week was paid out of the state’s unemployment compensation trust fund. Since mid-March, Iowa has paid out more than $344.1 million in unemployment claims.
• $106.8 million was paid last week from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation fund that was part of the $2 trillion federal coronavirus relief package. Since April 4, $651.3 million in additional benefits has been paid to Iowans from the federal fund. The additional benefit is $600 a week.
• $7.58 million was paid to self-employed Iowans through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance fund.

Nationally, 2.43 million new unemployment claims were filed last week, down from the previous week when more than 2.9 million new claims were filed, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

In addition, the department reported that the number of people receiving jobless benefits for the week ending May 9 increased to 25.1 million, a jump of 2.5 million from the prior week. The advanced seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the week ending May 9 was 17.2%, according to the labor department. The continuing claims and unemployment rate lag by a week from initial claims filings. 

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