Montana unemployment claims jump massively in one week

On March 11, before there were any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Montana, 57 Montanans filed a new claim for unemployment benefits.

On March 18, with 15 cases of the virus in the state, there were 2,830 new claims — an increase of nearly 50 times in seven days.

Gov. Steve Bullock and the Department of Labor and Industry this week enacted temporary emergency measures for Montanans whose jobs have been affected by COVID-19. That move means people who were laid off or lost hours because of the fallout of the virus are eligible for unemployment payments, even if they’re expecting to come back to work after the restrictions are lifted. It also waived the one-week waiting period before payments can be sent.