Virus Outbreak New Hampshire

A help wanted sign is posted May 7, 2020, outside Cyr Lumber in Windham, New Hampshire.

(The Center Square) – New unemployment claims in New Hampshire dropped slightly last week, as extended federal pandemic relief benefits began flowing to jobless workers in the state.

At least 2,604 new applications for benefits were filed for the week that ended March 13 – a decrease of 339 from the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's weekly report.

There were 65 new claims last week for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federally backed program that covers workers ineligible for traditional unemployment benefits. That's an increase of 7 from the previous week.

Last week, President Joe Biden signed a $1.9 trillion relief bill that extended pandemic relief programs until September and allows workers who were unemployed last year to exclude the first $10,200 of benefits they received from federal income taxes.

Meanwhile, 24,237 continuing claims – which lag behind a week but are viewed as a barometer of the unemployment situation – were filed in the week ending March 6, declining by 814 over the previous week.

The state has paid out more than $1.8 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits since mid-March, when the COVID-19 outbreak began.

New Hampshire's jobless rate dropped slightly to 3.3% in February, according to figures released this week by the New Hampshire Employment Security.

Nationally, about 770,000 new jobless claims were filed last week, a decrease of about 45,000 claims from the previous week, according to the Labor Department.

Continuing claims dropped by 18,000 to about 4.1 million nationally for the week that ended March 6, the labor department said.

Despite the gradually improving labor market, more than 18.2 million Americans were still receiving state or federal unemployment benefits in the week ending Feb. 27.