ALBANY — Across New York, 369,025 people filed initial claims for unemployment last week, a 2,674% increase from the same week a year ago.
The Capital Region was the third-hardest hit among the state’s 10 labor regions, with 23,321 claims during the first three weeks of the COVID-19 crisis in New York, March 8-28. That compares with 1,919 claims during the same three weeks of 2019, a 1,115% increase, the state Department of Labor said Thursday.
The department tallied the non-farm workforce at 472,100 in February; the 23,321 claims filed last week would be 5 percent of that total.
The February jobless rate for the Capital Region was estimated at 3.9 percent.
Meanwhile, the nearby Mohawk Valley Region saw an 852% increase in jobless claims last week compared with the same week a year ago. The North Country had the smallest increase in claims statewide (641%) and Long Island the greatest (1,384%).
The actual number of New Yorkers who lost their jobs as Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered their employers shut down to slow the spread of the virus is probably much higher: Some didn’t apply for benefits, and some were unable to submit their claims because the Department of Labor’s computers continually crashed on unprecedented demand. The department’s phone system received 7 million calls last week, the state has said.
Statewide, the employment sector hardest hit was food services and accommodations — restaurants and hotels, whose business has been eviscerated by work-at-home and stay-at-home orders as well as mandatory shutdowns. A total of 93,623 of these workers filed claims. The next highest was retail trade at 43,605, then health care/social assistance at 40,544 and administrative/support services at 30,482.
As a percentage, “other services” was hardest hit statewide, with a 9,153% jump in claims to 22,790.
Nationwide, 5.82 million advance claims were reported by states to the U.S. Department of Labor for the week ended March 28, 2020. With seasonal adjustments, that rises to 6.65 million, the most ever recorded in one week.