The number of Iowans who filed unemployment claims last week dropped 13% from the previous week, a sign that businesses are rehiring workers, Iowa Workforce Development’s director said in a prepared statement.

“While one week is not a trend, it is the biggest decline in continuing claims we have had in a single week since the beginning of the pandemic,” Beth Townsend, the state agency’s director, said in the new release. “We hope we continue to see similar declines in coming weeks as more and more Iowans return to work.”

During the week that ended on Saturday, 126,315 Iowans filed unemployment claims, the state agency reported. That’s 18,622 fewer than the 144,937 claims filed the previous week.

The number of filings last week includes 9,505 initial claims, a nearly 11% decline from the 10,653 initial claims filed during the week that ended July 11. 

Data released by Iowa Workforce Development for the week that ended on Saturday also shows:
• 2,085 people who worked in manufacturing filed initial jobless claims, a 53% decline from the 4,471 who filed initial claims during the week ending July 11. 
• $31.7 million in jobless benefits was paid out of the state’s unemployment compensation trust fund. Since mid-March, Iowa has paid out more than $692 million in unemployment claims.
• $85.6 million was paid from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation fund that was part of the $2 trillion federal coronavirus relief package. Since April 4, nearly $1.4 billion in additional benefits of $600 a week has been paid to Iowans from the federal fund. The benefit ends Saturday; Congress has not approved an extension.
• $5.8 million was paid to self-employed Iowans through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance fund.  
• $3.5 million was paid to Iowans through the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation fund, established to provide assistance to people no longer eligible to receive state unemployment. Since May 27, $31.8 million has been paid to Iowans from the fund.

Nationally, 1.4 million new unemployment claims were filed last week, up slightly from the previous week when more than 1.3 million new claims were filed, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

More than 16.1 million people received jobless benefits for the week ending July 11, a drop of 1.1 million from the previous week, the department reported. The advanced seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the week ending July 11 was 11.1%. The continuing claims and unemployment rate lag by a week from initial claims filings.

“The meaningful decline in continuing claims shows Americans are returning to work, a good sign for the labor market,” according to Scott Murray, an economist for Nationwide. “Businesses have a renewed confidence in the economy and are willing to expand employment as part of ramping up activity.”