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Jobless claims on LI rose for the first time in over a month last week

A store for rent on North Ocean Avenue

A store for rent on North Ocean Avenue in Patchogue this week. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Long Island jobless claims rose for the first time in more than a month, hitting 5,923 claims last week as New Yorkers begin receiving their final payments from federal unemployment supplements, the state Labor Department reported Thursday.

Last week, initial unemployment claims on the Island rose by 12.2%, or 645 claims from the prior week’s 5,278. Prior to the reporting of last week’s jump, the region had seen five weeks of declines in new weekly jobless claims, though claims in general remain stubbornly high.

During the same week in 2019, jobless claims for Nassau and Suffolk counties hit 1,120 claims, meaning the week's claims numbers are 429% higher than they were a year ago.

Local weekly claims hit an all-time high in April when claims surpassed 59,000 in a single week.

According to state data released Tuesday, the unemployment rate on Long Island stands at 10.5%.

The week before last saw a drop in the number of new weekly claims that was almost as big as last week's rise — 588 down vs. 645 up — making it hard to pinpoint the cause, experts say.

"Over time we see overall trends, but they’ll move up and down on a weekly or daily basis," Richard Vogel, dean of the school of business and professor of economics at Farmingdale State College, said about the weekly claims data. "I’m not sure we can read a lot into these ups and downs," he said.

The larger issue, Vogel said, is that the number of weekly jobless filings remains consistently above the norm, indicating that business owners are still struggling and making tough choices regarding their workforce.

"You just have some companies that have ridden it out for as long as they can," he said.

Also Thursday, jobless New Yorkers across the state are slowly seeing their second and final round of Lost Wages Assistance funding, which includes up to $900 in boosted unemployment payments.

Following a processing error last week that led to payment delays on the part of KeyBank, a payment processing vendor for the state, the Labor Department began disbursing extra unemployment funds this week.

LWA, a FEMA-backed program, gives New Yorkers receiving unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance an additional $300 in weekly aid for up to six weeks.

Weekly jobless claims across the state and New York City, too, saw an increase. Claims across the state rose to 71,641 last week from 63,236 previously, and claims in the city rose to 41,463 from 36,465 the prior week.

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