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Motorists take part in a caravan protest in front of Senator John KennedyÕs office at the Hale Boggs Federal Building asking for the extension of the $600 in unemployment benefits to people out of work because of the coronavirus in New Orleans, La. Wednesday, July 22, 2020. The benefits are set to expire on July 25 and the caravan of about a dozen cars was organized by UNITE HERE Local 23, Step UP Louisiana, The New Orleans Democratic Socialists of America and local residents to request that Senator John Kennedy and Sen. Bill Cassidy work to extend the benefit. (Photo by Max Becherer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Thousands of Louisiana residents are still applying for jobless benefits 15 months since the coronavirus pandemic paused the global economy, roughly double the number compared to the same time frame in 2019.

Louisiana had 5,231 new unemployment claims filed across the state for the week ending June 5, according to U.S. Department of Labor data. While there were many more seeking unemployment insurance benefits in 2020, that's still higher than claims filed in 2019, when there were 2,540 new claims for the week ending June 1.

That's on top of the previously logged 5,573 new jobless claims filed one week before that, which means that there's a steady stream of new claims for a department that has been inundated with requests for months.

While there are a numerous reasons why there are consistently new jobless claims, ranging from benefits expiring to clerical errors and even attempted fraud, the most recent week could be a combination of seasonal factors such as bus drivers and contracted workers leaving schools.

Beyond that, Louisiana is administering nine different unemployment programs some of which are tied to disaster relief benefits.

There were another 1,175 new claims filed under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program for self-employed workers or independent contractors that has been a major target for identity theft and fraud attempts across the nation. That was among the subjects carved out by the Legislative Auditor in its third report reviewing the work of the state's unemployment administrator, the Louisiana Workforce Commission.


Email Kristen Mosbrucker at kmosbrucker@theadvocate.com.