The number of Iowans who filed unemployment claims last week dropped below 100,000, a sign Iowans are returning to work, according to Iowa Workforce Development director Beth Townsend.

“We have seen steady decline in claim numbers so people are returning to work, and returning to work full time,” Townsend wrote in an email to the Business Record. Under existing unemployment benefits, most Iowans are eligible to receive benefits for 52 weeks, she wrote.

New unemployment data released today by the Iowan agency shows 98,135 Iowans received unemployment benefits in the week that ended on Saturday, an 11% drop from the previous week. Since late March, the number of unemployment claims filed in the state had exceeded 100,000, reaching 206,668 the week that ended May 9. 

The high levels of unemployment in the state are related to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Iowa Workforce Development data for the week ending on Saturday also shows:
• 5,282 Iowans filed initial claims, a 16% drop from the previous week when 6,317 new claims were filed. Also, 92,853 continuing claims were filed, an 11% decline from the previous week when 104,316 claims were filed.
• 1,132 people who worked in manufacturing filed first-time jobless claims. Since mid-March, 19%, or 80,250, of the new jobless claims have been from the manufacturing sector. In addition, 14%, or 58,033, of initial claims have been from those who are self-employed or independent contractors.
• $27.3 million in jobless benefits was paid out of the state’s unemployment compensation trust fund. Since mid-March, Iowa has paid out more than $780.8 million in unemployment claims.
• $13.8 million was paid last week from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation fund. Payments from the fund ended on July 25. However, President Donald Trump on Aug. 8 signed an executive order authorizing additional payments for some individuals receiving unemployment. Since April 4, unemployed Iowans have received nearly $1.6 billion from the fund.   
• $5.1 million was paid to self-employed Iowans through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance fund. Since April 18, $93.2 million has been paid to out-of-work Iowans from the fund.
• $4 million was paid from the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation to Iowans whose unemployment insurance has run out. Since May 27, when the program began, Iowans have received $11.2 million from the fund.

Nationally, 963,000 new unemployment claims were filed last week, down from the previous week when more than 1.1 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 Aug. 1 declined slightly to 15.4 million. The advanced seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the week ending Aug. 1 was 10.6%, according to the labor department. The continuing claims and unemployment rate lag by a week from initial claims filings.