A CLOSER LOOK: Arkansas unemployment claims nearly double in 1 week

A Closer Look

COVID-19 main cause of initial claims bump

ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — The week ending March 28, Arkansas had 26,944 initial unemployment claims. The prior week, March 21, there were 9,275 an increase of more than 17,000 claims, according to the Department of Labor (DOL).

“COVID-19 continues to impact the number of initial claims,” according to the DOL.

A year ago, March 21, 2019, Arkansas had 7,012 initial unemployment claims filed.

Nationally, the week ending March 28, 6.648 million seasonally adjusted initial claims were filed. March 21, had 3.307 million.

The numbers may actually be higher, due to how many people had trouble filing claims mainly because of backed up phone and online systems — people just couldn’t get through to file claims.

This concern has been voiced by many in Arkansas. Governor Asa Hutchinson said at his March 22 briefing that he’s never seen a global economic downturn like this in his life. Meanwhile, thousands of Arkansans managed to file their claims, but Hutchinson said the number may have been higher if the system [for filing claims] was properly working.

“Our system wasn’t designed for this,” said Hutchinson.


“States continued to identify increases related to the services industries broadly, again led by accommodation and food services,” according to data from the DOL. However, health care and social assistance, manufacturing industries, retail, wholesale trade and construction industries have been added to the list of comments.

Most states responded to types of job losses pertaining to work categories. For example, Pennsylvania, which had the highest increase of unemployment claims nationally, more than 362,000, had job losses in transportation and warehousing, accommodation and food services and social assistance industries, to name a few.

Other states across the country had similar types of job reductions.

Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma did not comment in this category.

Here are neighboring states that did weighed in:

  • Texas, 139,250 (March 21): Layoffs in the accommodation and food services, transportation and warehousing, health care and social assistance, administrative, support, waste management, remediation services, mining, retail trade, manufacturing, real estate rental and leasing, and construction
  • Missouri, 38,230 (March 21): Layoffs in the accommodation and food services, health care and social assistance, and retail trade industries
  • Tennessee, 35,375 (March 21): Layoffs in the accommodation and food services, retail trade, health care and social assistance, service, and administrative, support, waste management and remediation services

All states reported increases in initial claims for the week ending March 21.

Top 5 states with largest increases

  • Pennsylvania +362,012
  • Ohio +189,263
  • Massachusetts +141,003
  • Texas +139,250
  • California +128,727

Top 5 states with smallest increases

  • Virgin Islands +79
  • South Dakota +1,571
  • West Virginia +2,671
  • Vermont +3,125)
  • Wyoming +3,136

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