BOISE — Record Number of Initial Claims Continues to be Filed -

The Idaho Department of Labor has cleared the 42,000 unemployment insurance claims that had been pending as of June 6. Issues that remain now are more complicated - such as working to prevent identity theft - and await additional information from claimants or previous employers. 

Unemployment staff continue to work on processing the high volume of claims being filed. A higher percentage of new claims are being filed each week than ever before. Approximately 3,800 claims were filed each week on average in 2009 - the height of Great Recession. Currently, the four-week average is approximately 5,000 claims. 

Since Gov. Brad Little’s state of emergency declaration in March, staff from other areas of the agency have pitched in to help with the workload. As those staff return to their regular duties, Labor plans to hire at least 10 more adjudicators and 10 more claim specialists to continue processing claims.

The Labor Department is also working to simplify processes. “We are looking at ways to make the questions easier for claimants to answer and understand as well as automate more processes to make the turnaround faster,” said Jani Revier, Labor director. 

Total benefit payments attributed to COVID-19 layoffs reached $640 million as of July 11. Unemployment insurance regular benefits make up $155 million of the total, with Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits at $11.3 million, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits at $35.7 million and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payments at $438 million.

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