More than 11,270 Long Islanders filed for unemployment benefits last week, 400 more than the 10,870 who filed for aid the week before, according to state data released Thursday.
In total, more than 396,000 Long Islanders have filed for unemployment throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Across the state, nearly 3 million residents have filed jobless claims during the economic shutdown.
While the recent week’s jobless claims show an increase of almost 3.7% over the week before, Gregory DeFreitas, senior labor economics professor at Hofstra University, said the number of new jobless claims are “broadly” going in the right direction.
The last four weeks saw one big drop in week-to-week claims -- 869 fewer -- between June 13 and June 20. But over the same period, the number of new claims has risen more often than it's fallen. The 11,360 claims of the week ended June 6 were followed by a week with 11,742 claims, a rise of 382; the week after that saw the month's big drop, then the most recent rise of about 400.
In total, there has been a total of 45,251 new claims on Long Island over the last month.
The Island hit its highest weekly number of new claims when it hit 59,526 new claims the week of April 11.
“We are more than half below where we were in early May,” DeFreitas said. During that month, jobless claims on the Island fluctuated between 24,000 new claims to over 28,000 new claims before dipping to less than 10,000 the last week of the month, according to state data.
“That’s huge improvement,” he said. The most recent increase is “not unexpected given we’re reopening up.”
DeFreitas said the phased reopening of the region’s businesses, which began May 27, is a big factor in the overall drop from May's weekly numbers.
Long Island entered Phase 3 on June 24, and is expected to start Phase 4 on Wednesday, July 8. The ongoing Phase 3 allows restaurants to offer indoor dining at up to 50% of normal capacity.
The fourth and final phase includes higher education, museums and historic sites. Malls, gyms and movie theaters had been expected to be included in Phase 4, but Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said last week that those operations would remain shuttered pending further study.
Indoor dining in New York City will also remain off the table for the city’s upcoming Phase 3, Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday.
John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association business group, said while the slower reopening presents challenges, ultimately “there’s no easy way forward” and the state’s course of action is “the right way to go.”
Citing previous comments he made on the regional and state reopening plans, Rizzo said the rising rates of COVID-19 and hospitalizations in others states have made him change his mind on the best course forward.
“I thought we should be more aggressive with reopening, but I was wrong,” Rizzo said. “I think the only way to reopen is gradually, with a lot of monitoring.
“It’s abundantly clear that opening up too soon leads to tremendous spikes in the coronavirus, and we can’t have that,” he said.