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More Than 560K Louisianians Have Applied For Unemployment Since March 14

Ben Depp
Dry Dock Cafe is closed until further notice, New Orleans, Louisiana. April 7, 2020.

From March 14 to May 2, more than 560,000 Louisiana residents applied for unemployment benefits.

That's about 12 percent of the total population of 4,645,184 people. But some estimates suggest nearly a quarter of the state is now jobless.

Before the coronavirus hit, Louisiana had the highest rate of unemployment in the country, with 6.9 percent of residents out of work. That’s according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which has not released data since early March. But that rate has surged because of business shutdowns and the halt in tourism. 

Recent data shows the hardest hit sector is accommodation and food services, with 113,000 claims. That’s almost double that of the retail sector, which has the second-highest number of claims at 63,000, closely followed by healthcare and social assistance, with 62,000.

Orleans and Jefferson parishes top the list for regions in the state with the highest number of unemployment claims — around 73,000 each. East Baton Rouge Parish had around 58,000 claims.

To date, the Louisiana Workforce Commission has distributed more than one billion dollars in economic relief payouts. About a quarter of that money came from state benefits, and the remainder was federal assistance allotted by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

As of May 1, the state’s unemployment trust fund stood at $877 million. LCW says it has money to continue paying state benefits for the foreseeable future.

Betsy Shepherd covers environmental news and is producing a podcast on the Civil Rights Movement in small-town Louisiana. She won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for a feature she reported on Louisiana’s 2016 floods.

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