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Unemployment claims skyrocket in New Mexico

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Nearly 11,000 New Mexicans have filed initial unemployment claims in the past week, more than any week during the Great Recession.

“No one on our staff ever remembers it being this high in a week,” Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley told the Journal on Friday.

From Sunday through Thursday, McCamley said, the Department of Workforce Solutions received 10,879 initial unemployment claim requests. By comparison, McCamley said, the department received around 800 such requests the week

Bill McCamley

before.

The spike comes as New Mexico and other states are working to control the spread of the new coronavirus. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has ordered all restaurants, breweries and bars to close, except for takeout and delivery orders for food. Additionally, she has ordered indoor shopping malls and movie theaters to close.

The orders have prompted mass layoffs in the affected industries, as business owners look to adjust to the new normal.

As other states make similar rules across the country to slow the spread of the virus, experts have predicted a similar spike nationwide. In a note to investors, an economist with Goldman Sachs predicted as many as 2.25 million unemployment claims could be filed nationwide by Saturday, according to CBS News.

During the height of the Great Recession, McCamley said, around 60,000 New Mexico residents received unemployment benefits, although those came in over several years.

“As far as anyone can remember, this situation is unique,” McCamley said.

New Mexico’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 4.8% in January, the most recent month for which data is available.

From now on, the Department of Workforce Solutions intends to release initial unemployment claim totals for the previous week on Friday mornings, after the U.S. Department of Labor’s national claim report is released.

McCamley encouraged individuals filing a claim to do so through the agency’s website for maximum efficiency.

“We’re digesting information on a daily basis,” he said.

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