unemployment benefit form

Someone completing an unemployment benefits form.

The pace at which Virginians filed jobless claim benefits eased significantly last week from the previous two weeks, but the filings are still at highly elevated levels.

The number of week-over-week unemployment claims filed in Virginia fell by 29%, the Virginia Employment Commission reported Thursday. 

"The decrease indicates that initial claims volumes may have peaked during the April 4 filing week, following its dizzying ascent in late March," the VEC said, noting that Virginia reported the ninth-biggest weekly decline in claims among the states.

The agency said 104,619 people filed for the benefits last week. That's down from the 147,369 people who filed in the previous week and the 112,497 claims filed during the final full week of March.

Still, 410,762 Virginians have filed for benefits in the past four weeks, which is only 67,000 fewer than the average of all initial claims filed during the last three economic recessions.

Across the United States, 5.2 million more Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the four-week total to about 22 million out of a work force of 159 million — easily the worst stretch of U.S. job losses on record. The losses translate to about 1 in 7 workers.

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