Southern lanco farm 2019

Cows graze at a farm in southern Lancaster County in 2019. 

Lancaster Countians filed 11.1% more new claims for unemployment benefits last week, the most since mid-December, new data from the Lancaster County Workforce Development Board shows.

The rise to 669 new claims suggests that the economic indicator continues to be elevated by fresh filings from countians who’ve exhausted their first round of benefits – a trend that has lifted the volume of new filings above 500 for six straight weeks.

As the pandemic’s impact weakened and businesses regained their strength, new claims had receded into the 200s in late February and early March, approaching their pre-pandemic norm, until getting pumped back up by the claims-process timetable.

Hundreds of people who were laid off at the start of the pandemic, which began in March 2020, now are seeing their initial year of benefits end. So they’re filing new claims, hoping to get another year of regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits, a board official explained.

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Though the percentage increase in new claims seems dramatic, the percentage stems from a mere 67 additional new claims than the prior week’s 602 new claims. For perspective, in spring 2020, when the pandemic was at its worst, the county saw as many as 15,700 new claims in a single week.

Last week, while new claims in the county went up, new claims -- formally known as initial claims -- nationwide and statewide went in the opposite direction.

Across the country, new claims dipped 2.3% to 553,000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Statewide, new claims dropped 1.0% to 22,100.

However, another type of local unemployment claims – continued claims, which are filed by people who already are receiving jobless benefits and want to keep doing so – did decrease.

These fell 9.6% to 6,400 in the week ended April 17, the most recent period for which figures are available. The fifth consecutive weekly decline cut the number of continued claims to the fewest since the pandemic began.

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