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Coronavirus layoffs spark surge in New Mexico jobless claims

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MGN

SANTA FE, New Mexico — More than 10,000 residents of New Mexico have filed for unemployment benefits in less than a week, potentially doubling the number of recipients amid economic upheaval linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley said the agency received 10,879 claims this week, up from a little over 800 in first-time claim requests the previous week.

“No one has ever seen this many people apply at one time, within one week,” McCamley said, referring to the experience of agency staff.

With at least 43 cases in the state, the governor has put limits on public gatherings, casinos have closed and restaurants, coffee shops and other businesses have moved to pick-up or delivery service to limit person-to-person contact.

New Mexico has waived work-search requirements temporarily for people receiving unemployment benefits of up to $461 a week. Claims are paid out of a trust with a current balance of about $465 million that is supported by payroll taxes.

New Mexico provided unemployment benefits to as many as 60,000 people in the aftermath of the Great Recession, but that enrollment built gradually.

McCamley praised his staff for gathering so many applications — mostly through an online portal that helps limit the spread of the virus from person to person.

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Associated Press

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