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New Louisiana unemployment applications lowest since March

While the amount of those in need of jobless aid is still staggering, it's a positive sign that the bleed is starting to slow.
Credit: AP
A woman rides by a boarded up window of a business on Frenchman Street, Friday, May 15, 2020, in New Orleans, that has been decorated with a painting of Jimi Hendrix. The clubs and restaurants that are usually packed with people listening to music are closed as the city has fought to slow the spread of the coronavirus. (Rebecca Santana/AP Photo)

NEW ORLEANS — State and federal data show that about 28,800 Louisiana residents filed for unemployment last week. 

That's more than 12 times as many as a year earlier, but the lowest number since pandemic restrictions began pounding the state's economy.  

More than 321,700 people were getting state unemployment payments last week. That was down about 3,400 from the previous week but nearly 24 times the 13,500 people on unemployment a year earlier.  

The Louisiana Workforce Commission says that since business restrictions were eased on Friday, it's impossible to say whether that affected new applications for unemployment. 

A previous study from the University of Louisiana Lafayette estimates that one out of every four workers in New Orleans is without a job because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Advocate reports that unemployment in New Orleans is the highest in the state at 25%, just ahead of Baton Rouge at 21% without jobs and Lafayette at nearly 19%. 

One of the reasons New Orleans appears to be doing so poorly is the fact the city is so dependent upon the tourism industry, which has been devastated by global efforts to stop the virus.

Earlier this week, a Louisiana lawmaker shelved his effort to cut state unemployment aid during the coronavirus outbreak after learning the proposal would keep the state from receiving federal assistance. 

Republican Rep. Gerald "Beau" Beaullieu was trying to keep unemployment aid for Louisiana residents who are out of work from exceeding the money they earned in their previous jobs.

Louisiana Workforce Commission Secretary Ava Dejoie told a House committee Wednesday the proposal would run afoul of federal virus aid requirements. 

She said that would make Louisiana's unemployed workers ineligible to receive the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit available through July. 

Beaullieu pulled his bill from consideration after hearing the testimony.

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