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Idaho doesn’t count jobless on federal unemployment programs

UPDATED: Fri., Nov. 20, 2020

Associated Press

BOISE — Idaho has not included claims from jobless residents on federal unemployment programs in its weekly unemployment reports, according to reporting from Boise State Public Radio.

The radio station reports that anyone who files a claim for the first time is counted as an initial claim. But Idaho residents who only qualify for federal benefits have not been counted in the state’s weekly report of continued claims, the radio station reported.

“These programs have allowed people who otherwise would have been running back and trying to find whatever jobs that are available, to remain unemployed but not (be) searching for work,” said Michael Farren, a research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. “It’s probably helped avoid spreading the virus even more,” he added.

The Idaho Department of Labor said in a statement to the radio station that its focus was on processing claims and paying unemployment benefits to those who need it. The statement said that other states had the ability to set up a new, separate system to handle unemployment claims for the federal programs, one that Idaho did not partake in.

“I don’t necessarily fault Idaho for only releasing the number of people on the state program,” Farren said. “But it would be good if the department had been able to provide a little bit more nuance to the data.”

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