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Senators Ask Where Are Mapp’s 1,000 Jobs As Virgin Islands Posts 3rd Highest Unemployment Rate In U.S.

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                      Gov. Kenneth Mapp

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Virgin Islands has the third-highest unemployment rate in the country, trailing only Puerto Rico and New Jersey, which held down the top two spots, according to the latest U.S. Department of Labor statistics.

The Labor Department said today that the firing rate, as measured by the number of filing for first-time unemployment benefits, rose last week. Weekly jobless claims, or the number of initial jobless claims that serves a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., gained by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 267,000 in the week ended September 19.

However, economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast claims to rise to 275,000 last week. The four-week moving average — which is widely considered to be a better gauge of labor market conditions, as it irons out week-to-week volatility — was decreased by 6,000 from the previous week’s revised average to 2,251,750. The previous week’s average was revised up by 1,500 from 2,256,250 to 2,257,750.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.7 percent for the week ending September 12, unchanged from the previous week’s unrevised rate. The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending September 5 was 1,988,080, a decrease of 118,826 from the previous week.

There were 2,222,661 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2014. There were 11,497 former Federal civilian employees claiming UI benefits for the week ending September 5, an increase of 824 from the previous week. Newly discharged veterans claiming benefits totaled 17,437, a decrease of 382 from the prior week.

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending September 5 were in Puerto Rico (3.3), New Jersey (2.7), the Virgin Islands (2.3), Alaska (2.2), Nevada (2.2), Pennsylvania (2.2), California (2.1), Connecticut (2.1), Massachusetts (1.9), and West Virginia (1.9).

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending September 12 were in North Dakota (+209), Oregon (+190), Minnesota (+93), Maine (+47), and Delaware (+17), while the largest decreases were in California (-5,286), Texas (- 3,569), New York (-2,938), Illinois (-1,986), and Pennsylvania (-1,860).

Only 40 percent of Puerto Rico’s available work force is employed. Those statistics are not available for the Virgin Islands because the V.I. Department of Labor does not share all statistics with the federal government.

The Labor Department said there were no special factors impacting this week’s initial claims.

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