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Virginia reports major drop in new unemployment claims, but unemployed workers still report problems with 'outstanding issues'

Virginia saw the biggest decrease in new unemployment claims of any state in the country last week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

NORFOLK, Va. — The U.S. Department of Labor reports Virginia saw the biggest decrease in new unemployment claims of any state in the country last week. 

However, these numbers only reflect new claims for benefits, and many unemployed workers say they’re still having problems with ‘outstanding issues’ that cut off their payments without an explanation.

The Virginia Employment Commission reports 12,231 initial unemployment claims were filed last week, a significant decrease from the 37,356 claims that were filed during the week ending April 24.

For the fourth consecutive week, new unemployment claims dropped to a pandemic low across the country. About 498,000 people filed for unemployment last week.

Atoya Jenkins said she received benefits for a year without issue, but her payments stopped in March. She believes she’s still eligible due to newly-passed unemployment extensions.

“I was so grateful when I was getting my unemployment because I saw the people that was not and having problems and I was so grateful, and now I know how it feels," Jenkins said.

She received an automated message stating there's an 'outstanding issue' with her unemployment claim, but no one has explained to her what that issue may be.

“My whole life has been affected, I sit in here all day and try to get someone on the phone and I can't," Jenkins said, fighting back tears. "I’m just so angry and I’m mad, because I don’t know what to do and I don’t know what the problem is.”

She said she’s applying for jobs, but she often can’t afford medication and she could face eviction.

“I had never had to file for unemployment in my 47 years and this was my first time and hopefully my last time, because I wouldn’t put this on anybody else," Jenkins said.

The VEC is reinstating its work-search requirement for benefits at the end of this month. 

People filing for unemployment must prove they’re applying for jobs and able to work before receiving payments, starting the week of May 30.

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