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May 22, 2020

Mass. unemployment claims still spiking in finance, insurance & education industries

Photo | Grant Welker Worcester's largely traffic-free Main Street during the coronavirus pandemic

Unemployment claims in Massachusetts hit a record high in late March, and although each subsequent week has remained high there's generally been one relative positive: the number of total claims have fallen each week.

The progress, as it were, has not been universal.

While the hardest-hit have been widely reported — including food and accommodation, retail and health and social assistance — other industries have seen higher numbers more recently as the economic pain of the coronavirus has spread across industries.

[Related: Mass. unemployment rate reaches all-time high: 15.1%]

In the week ending May 16, three industries saw week-to-week increases in new unemployment claims: finance and insurance, education, and public administration, according to a release Thursday from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.

Finance and insurance workers made 18% more claims from the past week at 619 workers. Education wasn't at an all-time high during the pandemic but had 1,704 new unemployment claims, up 7% from last week, exceeding numbers that week for construction, wholesale trade or transportation and warehousing, which had been harder hit. Public administration claims also rose 7% with 1,509 new claims.

Overall, 865,000 Massachusetts residents have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus pandemic began, after 38,328 were filed last week, according to U.S. Department of Labor data released Thursday. The unemployment rate in Massachusetts in April was 15.1%, an all-time record since data started being tracked in 1976.

Other industries have also seen week-to-week spikes, which could reflect major employers outside of lodging, food or retail laying off workers. The information segment saw a 20% jump in the week ending May 9 with 1,157 claims.

The week ending April 25, a few weeks after non-essential business closures went into effect, also saw some major spikes in industries beyond food, drink and travel. Education workers filed 2,140 new claims and public administration workers another 1,604, each rising about 30%. Arts, entertainment and recreation claims jumped 6% to 1,889 and finance and insurance workers filed 592 new claims that week, up 10%.

Last week, claims in Massachusetts were highest in health and social assistance (5,621), retail (4,457) and food and accommodation (3,893).

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