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Massachusetts Sees Drop In Claims Filed For Unemployment, Pandemic Assistance

BOSTON (CBS) -- Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost in Massachusetts since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. But fewer people are applying for unemployment assistance as the weeks go by, the latest federal data shows.

Massachusetts saw 27,174 initial unemployment claims filed last week. That's down from 38,332 in the previous week.

The state also saw 54,281 new claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a program for self-employed workers, independent contractors and "gig economy" workers who are not covered by traditional unemployment. That's a drop from the nearly 148,000 who applied in the previous week.

Nationwide, another 2 million people sought unemployment assistance.

Despite the drop in claims, some people told WBZ-TV they are struggling to get help from the state.

"That was my only source of income," said Jessica Dewey. "I do have two teenagers at home. The way I look at it is my bills aren't going to pay themselves."

Dewey is one of many people who say their state unemployment accounts have been frozen recently.

"When I logged in to file my weekly claim for unemployment on Memorial Day, it says account unavailable and it has a phone number and nobody can seem to help," said Chrissy Hanchett. "They claim they are putting in a ticket to get the account unlocked and they say you have to wait and hear from unemployment and I never hear anything and it's just very frustrating."

The Department of Unemployment Assistance recently increased its staff from 50 to 2,000.

"I suspect that it's an inadequate computer system, and some resources need to put into that," said Marsha Pomeroy.

Learn more about applying for unemployment in Massachusetts here.

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