COVID-19 weekly unemployment filings spike in R.I. amid exhaustion of initial benefits

THERE WERE 79,970 individuals collecting some form of unemployment benefit in Rhode Island last week. / AP FILE PHOTO/PAUL SAKUMA

PROVIDENCE – COVID-19-related unemployment insurance filings in Rhode Island rose by 16,036, more than double the 7,120 one week prior, the R.I. Department of Labor and Training said on Tuesday.

To date, COVID-19 unemployment insurance filings in the state total 302,127.

The rise in filings week to week did not keep pace with continuing benefit claims.

There were 79,970 Rhode Islanders who claimed some form of unemployment benefit, including pandemic unemployment assistance, for the week ended Jan 10, an increase from 79,089 one week prior.

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DLT spokesperson Margaux Fontaine said that the data includes all filings in the state, including refilings, which claimants were not necessarily required to file.

“Some unemployment claimants are beginning to exhaust their initial benefits, and while extensions are issued automatically for the majority of claimants, many still refile their claim,” Fontaine said. “General uncertainly around the extended federal programs has also led to more refiles and increased call volume. We encourage claimants to check our website for the latest information regarding these changes.”

Pandemic unemployment-assistance filings in Rhode Island totaled 11,336 last week, a rise from 5,055 one week prior. The federally created and backed program covers those typically ineligible for unemployment benefits, including gig workers, contractors and small-business owners.

The DLT said 37,620 individuals received PUA benefits last week in Rhode Island, a slight increase from 37,165 one week prior.

Regular UI filings totaled 6,563 last week.

There were also 369 COVID-19-related Temporary Disability Insurance and Temporary Caregiver Insurance filings last week, a rise from 347 one week prior. All COVID-19-related TDI filings total 20,278 to date.

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