Coronavirus National Guard

Senior Airman Madeleine Jemiolo of Hampton takes a call at New Hampshire Employment Security temporary call center set up at a National Guard training center in Pembroke. More than 100 suspected scammers pocketed nearly a half-million dollars of inflated unemployment benefits since late March, but the state has managed to protect all but $3,000 from organized crime rings using stolen personal information, officials said.

New Hampshire last week recorded its seventh straight weekly decline in the number of initial jobless claims.

There were 6,973 first-time filers — more than the population of Plymouth — for the week ending May 23, according to the U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday, down from the revised 8,794 for the previous week.

“It is encouraging to see the number of new claims for unemployment benefits continuing to drop in New Hampshire as more of the state’s economy opens up in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Laconia economist Russ Thibeault. “We probably have a month or two of a rising unemployment rate because the data is lagging the improving New Hampshire economy. We’re beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.”

The state reported a record unemployment rate for April: 17.2% with 122,570 residents unemployed

About 199,000 people have applied for new unemployment benefits in New Hampshire in the past 10 weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic. Not everyone who files is deemed qualified and some people have returned to part-time or full-time work.

The record week ending April 4 saw 39,202 file fresh jobless claims.

The coronavirus pandemic, which shuttered businesses and has millions staying at home, has resulted in more than 40 million Americans filing new unemployment claims over the past 10 weeks, 2.1 million last week alone.

As of last Friday, New Hampshire had paid out nearly a half-billion dollars in unemployment benefits since March 24 — more than what the state paid out the prior seven years, according to Employment Security.

The $492.2 million in payments between March 24 and last Friday includes $335.6 million in supplemental $600 federal payments.

What’s Working, a series exploring solutions for New Hampshire’s workforce needs, is sponsored by the New Hampshire Solutions Journalism Lab at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications and is funded by Eversource, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, the New Hampshire College & University Council, Northeast Delta Dental and the New Hampshire Coalition for Business and Education.

Contact reporter Michael Cousineau at mcousineau@unionleader.com. To read stories in the series, visit unionleader.com/whatsworking.

Saturday, October 17, 2020
Friday, October 16, 2020
Monday, October 12, 2020
Saturday, October 10, 2020