EXCLUSIVE: The pace of initial unemployment claims for Californians previously working in the state’s arts, entertainment and recreation sector has slowed dramatically in recent weeks, falling for three consecutive weeks to the lowest levels since the coronavirus pandemic shut down venues across the state and the country in mid-March.
The steady decline of initial claims in August also coincides with the termination of the $600-a-week federal unemployment benefit that ended at the end of July.
According to data compiled by the state’s Employment Development Department, 5,876 Californians in the sector filed for jobless benefits for the week ending August 8; another 5,476 filed for the week ending August 15; and 5,208 more filed in the week ending August 22, the most recent week in its survey. That’s about half the number of claims filed weekly in July, and far below the high-water mark of 46,659 filed during the week ending March 28. Since then, there’s been a steady weekly decline in initial claims.
During the past five weeks, nearly 33,000 out-of-work Californians in the sector have filed for unemployment insurance, raising the total number to more than 260,000 statewide since the pandemic began. Prior to the U.S. outbreak, an average of 730 workers in this sector applied for unemployment benefits during the first nine weeks of 2020.
Although the $600-a-week federal benefit has been discontinued, jobless Californians soon will be receiving an extra $300 a week on top of their regular state benefits under an agreement between the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for lost wages due to the pandemic.
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