Number of new Utah unemployment claims dips after hitting a 31-week high

Positive news is tempered by the fact that overall claims are at their highest level in 13 weeks.

New unemployment claims in Utah eased back last week after a two-week spurt that officials put down to winter weather and changes in benefits.

But the 4,535 new claims filed the week ending Jan. 23 remain way above typical levels before the coronavirus pandemic began. Those claims had reached a 31-week high Jan. 9,.

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Kevin Burt, director of Utah’s unemployment insurance division at the state Department of Workforce Services, said Thursday that Congress’ approval of continuing pandemic relief in jobless benefits had pushed up claims.

Last week’s decline in claims and news that the state’s overall employment rate had dropped to 3.6% were “positive indicators that employment opportunities continue to exist as Utah’s economy recovers from this difficult pandemic,” Burt said in a news release.

Continuing jobless claims filed week to week reached their highest level in 13 weeks, at 32,338, according to Thursday’s report.

For more information on unemployment benefits, job openings and other pandemic-related assistance, go to jobs.utah.gov.