WINCHESTER — New jobless claims have spiked in the Northern Shenandoah Valley in recent weeks, according to data from the Virginia Employment Commission.

Both Frederick County and Winchester have moved to more than 200 new, or initial, jobless claims.

On March 13, Frederick County recorded 68 initial claims. In consecutive weeks leading to April 3, Frederick recorded 203, 158 and 224 initial claims.

Winchester had a similar pattern. On March 20, the city recorded just 67 initial claims. By March 27, Winchester reported 218 initial jobless claims, followed by 212 on April 3.

Across Virginia, between March 20-27, the claims figure increased by 10,684. This brought the total number of claims filed since the March 27, 2020, filing week to 1,554,169, compared to the 477,600 average filed during the previous three economic recessions since 1990.

That number increased by just 282 for the recorded week between March 27 and April 3.

Clarke, Shenandoah and Warren counties saw increases as well near the end of March.

Clarke County, which had been in the single digits for eight-straight weeks as of the March 20 filing week, jumped to 32 initial claims on March 27 and 24 on April 3.

Shenandoah County rose from 28 to 30 to 62 to 79 over the course of the last four filing weeks, while Warren County jumped from 19 to 32 to 54 to 51 over the same period.

Despite increases, the VEC said the most recent filing week’s numbers were 81% lower than the same week in 2020.

Continued weeks claimed totaled 57,344, which was a 0.5% increase from the previous week, but 75,840 lower than the 133,184 continued claims from the comparable week last year.

Over half of the claims that had a self-reported industry were in the accommodation/food service, administrative and waste services, retail trade and healthcare/social assistance industries. The continued claims total is mainly comprised of those recent initial claimants who continued to file for unemployment insurance benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the 113 localities recorded in Virginia, five had more than 1,000 initial claims on April 3, including Alexandria (1,806), Norfolk (1,578), Virginia Beach (1,255), Richmond (1,241) and Fairfax County (1,156).

Meanwhile, 69 localities had less than 100 initial claims filed the week of April 3, 24 localities had between 101 and 300 initial claims, nine had between 501 and 1,000 and six had between 301 and 500.

Nationwide, for the week ending April 3, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 744,000, an increase of 16,000.

— Contact Matt Welch at