Virus Outbreak New Hampshire

A help wanted sign is posted May 7, 2020, outside Cyr Lumber in Windham, New Hampshire. Content Exchange

(The Center Square) – First-time unemployment claims in New Hampshire declined again last week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's weekly report.

There were 539 new applications for state jobless benefits filed for the week that ended July 17 – a decline of 225 from the previous week, the federal agency reported on Thursday.

Meanwhile, continuing jobless claims – which lag behind a week – totaled 8,759 in the week ending July 10, a decrease of 1,871 over the previous week.

The state reported 67 new claims for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in the week that ended July 17, an increase of 42 from the prior week, according to the report.

New Hampshire has ended its participation in the PUA program, but under federal law they cannot pull the plug on beneficiaries immediately.

The state has distributed more than $1.8 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits to workers since March 2020, when the COVID-19 outbreak began.

New Hampshire's jobless rate remained steady at 2.9% in June, according to the New Hampshire Employment Security, one of the lowest rates in the nation.

Despite the gains, New Hampshire is facing a hiring crunch with tens of thousands of jobs unfilled as the state's busy summer tourist season gets underway.

Gov. Chris Sununu has taken steps to lure workers back to their jobs amid a shortage of labor as the state eases COVID-19 restrictions and fully reopens its economy.

That includes bringing back a work search requirement and offering workers $500 to $1,000 bonuses if they get a job and keep it for at least eight weeks.

Nationally, there were 419,000 new claims filed in the week that ended July 17, an increase of 51,000 from the previous week, according to the labor department.

On a positive note, continuing claims dropped by 126,000 to 3.24 million nationally for the week that ended July 3. That's a new pandemic low, according to the federal agency.

An estimated 12.5 million Americans were still receiving state or federal jobless benefits in the week ending July, the agency reported.

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