7.5% file for unemployment in Stutsman County

Business closed sign
Unemployment claims have increased as a number of businesses in the area close temporarily during the coronavirus pandemic. John M. Steiner / The Sun

One out of every 13 members of the available workforce in Stutsman County filed a first-time unemployment claim during the five weeks beginning with the week that ended March 21 and ended with the week ending April 18, according to Danica Chaput, workforce center manager for Job Service North Dakota in Jamestown.

Chaput said that amounted to 767 claims in a workforce of 10,134 people since the coronavirus pandemic began to cause problems in the area. For comparison, there were 19 new filings for unemployment for the entire month of March in 2019, she said.

"A large portion of those filing (in 2020) were in the accommodation and food service industries, health care and social assistance and retail," she said. "Because those industries employ a lot of women, those filing were 61.5% women and 38.5% male."

Most people filing unemployment claims are considered "attached" to a job, meaning they will return to their position when circumstances change. Because of the special situation, the need to make four contacts per week seeking employment and the waiting period prior to receiving unemployment benefits have been waived, Chaput said.

"They are eligible for the same number of weeks of benefits," she said, "but we are getting the funds to them a little faster."


The amount of the unemployment benefit is based on a percentage of the person's wages when the person was employed and can range between $43 to a maximum of $618 per week. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, an additional $600 per week on top of the state unemployment compensation passed as part of the federal CARES stimulus package, should be seen in next week's unemployment benefits, Chaput said.

And while there are more than 700 people not working at the job they held a few weeks ago, there are 431 job openings listed by Job Service for the Jamestown area.

"Quite a few good positions are open right now," Chaput said. "We have good openings in the education and agricultural fields listed now. There are a lot of opportunities in the area."

Connie Ova, CEO of Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp., said some businesses are using the slow times associated with the pandemic for updates, remodeling or possible expansions of their business to position themselves for full operations when things improve.

"Some businesses are calling it a furlough," she said, referring to temporary layoffs. "They can draw unemployment but have a job to come back to when things are ready."

Ova said business owners and managers should work with their bankers and monitor the situation which is constantly changing.

"They need to take full advantage of whatever programs there are to help them through this," she said.

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