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August 13, 2020

Mass. unemployment claims continue slow downward trend

Photo | Grant Welker Brew City temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

New weekly unemployment claims fell further last week in Massachusetts, hitting roughly half the number of new claims filed a month ago, foreshadowing potential improvement in the state's dismal unemployment rate, the worst in the nation.

Massachusetts residents filed 14,181 new unemployment claims in the week ending Aug. 8, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday, which came as relatively good news that was echoed nationally. Across the country, new weekly unemployment claims fell below 1 million for the first time since the first half of March.

For Massachusetts, those newest numbers are a 9% improvement over the prior week. Numbers were nearly twice as high a month ago, when Massachusetts had the nation's worst unemployment rate in July at 17.5%.

State unemployment numbers for July are slated to be released Aug. 21.

Almost 1.2 million new unemployment claims have been filed in Massachusetts since mid-March. The hardest-hit industries during that time have been in food and accommodation (159,532 claims through the week ending Aug. 1), health and social assistance (147,773) and retail (142,459).

Though numbers have improved in the past month in Massachusetts, those gains could be at risk with the state's low but rising coronavirus case numbers. Gov. Charlie Baker has suspended the next planned step in the state's business reopening, which would have included indoor movie theaters and other indoor activities. Reopening of bars, night clubs and other large venues, which are in an even later phase, was also pushed back. Baker also reduced the capacity of outdoor gatherings to 50 from 100.

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