By clicking here, you can see the gradual progression of unemployment claims per week. In April, they were handling more than 40,000 continued claims. It has gone down to just over 30,000 since then, but Job Service North Dakota is still dealing with more new claims than usual.
Sarah Arntson, Communications Director with Job Service North Dakota, said the number of North Dakotans applying for unemployment each week was average in February and early March. Then when the pandemic picked up in late March, it jumped from about 500 per week to north of 5,000.
In the first week of April, the amount of new claims per week hit an all time high of 16,167. Since then, it has gone down to about 2,000 per week.
“Our numbers have leveled off a bit, but they are still running much higher than we would typically see,” Arntson explained.
More North Dakotans are going back to work with North Dakota’s Smart Restart program. Arnston said re-entering people in the workforce has been a slow process.
“There are still many people who are caught in that in between,” she added. “They aren’t going back to work yet, they are uncertain about their future.”
The average unemployment pay per week in North Dakota is $461, not including any bonus. With the temporary $600 bonus from the CARES Act, that average amounts to $4,244 per month. If the Senate’s proposed $200 bonus goes through, it goes down to $2,644. With no bonus, it drops to less than half, $1,844. This causes the average unemployment recipient to lose $2,400 per month.
“This is a lot of money to an average household. So seeing that disappear or even drop significantly, it hurts,” Arntson said.
With more than 30,000 North Dakotans currently on unemployment, Arntson said losing the bonus will have a ripple effect.
“A lot less money to put directly back into the economy,” she said. “People are going to have trouble paying their mortgage, paying their bills, maybe even getting groceries and medicine.”
Arnston said they are not sure when the new unemployment bonus will be finalized. She expects it will take four to five weeks for North Dakota’s unemployment system to process the new benefits once congress approves them.