Alaska’s initial unemployment claims smash all-time record

Initial filings for unemployment insurance in Alaska nearly doubled in the week ending on March 28 with over 14,500 new filings, according to new data released from the U.S. Department of Labor. That is an all-time record for Alaska, according to Patsy Westcott, director of the state’s Division of Employment and Training Services. 

Catch up on the latest coverage of the coronavirus crisis in Alaska.

Outside of last week, which also broke the weekly record, the previous high was about 4,900 set back in January of 2010, according to numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor.

RELATED: The coronavirus pandemic is devastating Alaska’s budget, and it could cost you your PFD

Alaska’s numbers echo the nationwide trend, where seasonally-adjusted, over 6.6 million workers filed for unemployment benefits, also nearly doubling last week’s numbers. That number also represents a near-doubling of the previous week’s numbers.

RELATED: Business bruised by COVID-19? SBA may have $10,000 for you

Westcott added that the surge in new claims has “severely backed up” the division’s phone lines, and she encouraged people to file online. She also encouraged those who are self-employed who have lost work to wait until the state has set up provisions of the recently-passed CARES Act that will provide unemployment benefits to those people.

Lex Treinen is covering the state Legislature for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at

Previous articleDozens of Alaska villages to lose air service as Ravn announces huge cuts
Next articleState medical officer encourages Alaskans to wear homemade masks