Nearly 41,000 Iowans filed for unemployment last week

State officials say nearly 41,000 Iowans filed unemployment claims last week.

Beth Townsend, the director of the Iowa Workforce Development agency warned last Friday that the number of claims has been “staggering.”

“We are doing our very best to ensure most people will receive a payment within 7-10 days of their initial claim,” Townsend said.

More than 160 Iowa Workforce Development employees who worked on other programs have been retrained and are answering the phones to take claims.

“We are going to get through this and I know that to be true from watching these inspiring state employees who are constantly asking: ‘What else can I do to help?’” Townsend said.

Last Friday, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds acknowledged the unemployment numbers are grim.

“They are significant and everybody knows that,” Reynolds said. “I so appreciate the measures we put in place to not only help Iowans who have been laid off, but also our employers.”

If an Iowan applies for unemployment and indicates they were laid off due to COVID-19, Reynolds said their employer will not be charged. Earlier this week, Reynolds announced small businesses with 25 or fewer employees that have been affected by COVID-19 closures may apply for state grants of up to $25,000.

From Sunday through Saturday of last week, more than 13,000 Iowans who work in restaurants, bars, hotels, and other hospitality businesses filed for unemployment benefits. Nearly 5,000 who work in health care and social assistance programs filed unemployment claims and about 2700 who work in education filed for unemployment.

— Radio Iowa