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Recent Changes in Arkansas Unemployment Insurance Claims

by Ellie Wheeler - March 27, 2020

New data on the unprecedented number of workers filing for unemployment benefits illuminates the impact of the recent Coronavirus pandemic on the labor market

On March 26, the U.S. Department of Labor reported 3.3 million initial claims on unemployment insurance, the highest ever and more than quadrupling the previous record from October 1982. These updates reflect the week ending on March 21, 2020, which is the most recent week of available data. 

These changes follow a time of exceptionally low unemployment and unemployment insurance claims in Arkansas and the nation.  

Almost 9,000 Arkansans filed for unemployment due to layoffs or other separation from their employer during the week ending March 21. This represents an increase of about 7,500 from the previous week’s numbers, a more than five-fold increase.

Arkansas Unemployment Claims

The rise in new unemployment claims in the week ending March 20th is largely due to declines in the service sector. Retail trade, the travel and tourism industry, dine-in restaurants and the arts, entertainment and recreation businesses have been especially hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While the weekly unemployment insurance claims is an indicator of the newly unemployed workers, it does not capture all the newly unemployed. For example, workers who are self-employed or considered part of the gig economy are not included in the unemployment insurance claims count.