Unemployment in R.I. related to COVID-19 layoffs tops 50K

RHODE ISLAND now has more than 50,000 people who are seeking unemployment insurance as a result of layoffs related to COVID-19 closures./ COURTESY R.I. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND TRAINING

PROVIDENCE – Unemployment in Rhode Island related to COVID-19 topped 50,000 for the first time Tuesday, 15 days after the state started segregating claims associated with the pandemic.

The figures released Wednesday by the R.I. Department of Labor and Training indicate 50,381 people have filed for unemployment benefits since March 9. Another set of claims, for temporary disability insurance, totals 5,659.

TDI claims can be made by people who are experiencing illness and are self-isolating or are quarantined due to the pandemic, as well as their caregivers. The insurance has lesser benefits than unemployment, according to state officials.

The state in total has had 53,509 recent claims for unemployment assistance, an unprecedented number, according to state officials.

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In her news conference Tuesday, Gov. Gina M. Raimondo said that benefits for people filing should be available to them within 10 to 12 days. In general, the state provides about half a person’s income for up to 26 weeks. “We’re trying to get everyone paid within 10 to 12 days,” she said.

Raimondo advised people who have already filed to not call to check on the status of their application, as it will only slow down the response. The state has online and phone applications available, but is advising people to file online.

As part of an emergency order last week, Raimondo waived the standard one-week waiting period for people to qualify for the benefits.

Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at macdonald@pbn.com. Follow her on Twitter @MaryF_MacDonald.

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