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Nyla, Clark, 3, and her mother, Chavonne Clark, sit in a baby stroller at the corner of Loyola Avenue and Giord Street in New Orleans, hoping to get a few dollars from an occasional passerby in Wednesday, March 25, 2020. Clark was a phlebotomist with a local company until she lost her job because of the coronavirus pandemic. She is waiting for unemployment. (Photo by David Grunfeld, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

New unemployment claims across Louisiana dropped to 11,818 from 12,845 one week before, according to U.S. Department of Labor data released on Thursday.

But it's still about double the number of new claims than in the past several months. 

There were another 3,272 new claims filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a special federal program for the self-employed such as independent contractors, compared to 3,195 claims one week before.

There were 40,226 continuing existing unemployment claims for the week ending March 27 and 110,660 more pandemic unemployment assistance claims, according to the latest data available. The state administered $102 million in unemployment benefits for the week ending March 27. 

Accommodation and food services led both new unemployment claims and existing claims in Louisiana with 3,052 new jobless claims and 8,020 individuals already out of work, according to Louisiana Workforce Commission data updated on Friday. 

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There was a big drop in how much the state paid to jobless individuals, $55 million for the week ending April 3, down from $102 million one week before. That coincides with a decline in what's known as weekly certifications received by the agency, basically individuals confirming they are still without a job. There were 243,864 individuals without jobs seeking benefits in late March, then 154,199 seeking benefits one week later. 

It was not immediately clear whether a large number of individuals had benefits exhausted and were still out of a job or whether unemployed individuals did not continue seeking benefits. March 14 was the last day for the extra $300 federal benefits approved through the coronavirus pandemic relief bill. 

Meanwhile, the pool of money used to pay unemployment benefits ran dry at the end of March while the number of new unemployment claims during the same time frame increased. Federal law requires states to pay all eligible claims no matter how much is in the unemployment trust fund. In Louisiana it's been replenished by federal grant money, federal loans and business taxes. 


Email Kristen Mosbrucker at kmosbrucker@theadvocate.com.