First-time jobless claims from Allen County residents for the first 16 weeks of this year have reached more than 32,160 and now exceed the total for 2008, the biggest stretch of the Great Recession.
Calculations by Purdue University Fort Wayne's Community Research Institute also show these initial claims for unemployment benefits are on pace to exceed those filed in 2009.
Allen County residents have made 32,161 claims this year with 30,010 coming from the first five weeks of many businesses being shut down or scaling back hours due to the global coronavirus pandemic. The figures released Tuesday are based on Indiana Department of Workforce Development data.
Allen County had 31,955 first-time unemployment claims in 2008 and 34,757 in 2009, the Community Research Institute said. It took more than 50 weeks in 2008 to reach the number of claims from the five-week period of coronavirus-related data the Research Institute analyzed.
“Not only is the overall scale of unemployment claims remarkable, the speed at which this occurred is unlike anything we've experienced,” Rachel Blakeman, director of the Community Research Institute at Purdue University Fort Wayne, said in a statement. “Looking at Allen County's weekly claims for 2008 and 2009, a 'big' week was 1,500 to 1,700 claims. Now we are calling more than 3,600 a slowdown.”
One factor helping to drive this year's numbers, though, is that independent contractors can request jobless benefits under changes to unemployment rules that were not in effect for the Great Recession, according to a news release.
A broader picture of the economic toll will become more clear when data for the weeks ending April 25 and May 2 are released.
“Regionally, the number of initial claims filed for the week ending April 18 still exceeds the highest one-week Great Recession total, which occurred in the final week of December 2008,” said Rick Farrant, director of communications for Northeast Indiana Works. “So while we may see a continued slide in initial filings with the projected opening of the economy, we remain in uncharted territory.”
For the state's Economic Growth Region 3, the data shows 61,607 people have made initial unemployment claims for the weeks ending March 21 through April 18 with Allen County claims making up 48.7%. Region 3 also includes Adams, DeKalb, Grant, Huntington, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties,
Blakeman and Farrant pointed out the number of claims continues to slow. The week ending April 18 had 7,145 claims for the northeast Indiana region, compared to 12,183 the week before. It peaked at 21,234 for the week ending March 28.
• Northeast Indiana Works and its WorkOne Northeast career centers can assist people in their job searches of finding training opportunities. The centers are temporarily closed, but staff is available by phone. Contact and other information can be found at www.neinworks.org.