New unemployment claims in Louisiana topped 100,000 last week as businesses nationwide remain closed or limit their operations in hopes of mitigating the spread of the new coronavirus.

The U.S. Department of Labor says 102,985 Louisiana workers made initial unemployment claims during the week that ended April 4, up 5,585 claims from 97,400 claims the previous week. Those numbers have not been adjusted to account for seasonal trends, as is often done with employment statistics.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said about 277,000 Louisiana residents applied for unemployment benefits between March 1 and April 4, compared to about 103,000 during all of 2019.

Starting next week, Louisiana will begin paying enhanced unemployment benefits using federal funds approved by Congress as part of a national relief and stimulus package. Unemployed workers will get an additional $600 on top of what they would normally receive, which in Louisiana is no more than $247.

Workers who normally don’t qualify for unemployment benefits, such as contractors and self-employed workers, are eligible. The federal payments end July 31.

Due to the high number of claimants, officials say the best time to file an unemployment claim is between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. at louisianaworks.net.

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