FARGO — More than 59,000 people have filed unemployment insurance claims in North Dakota since March 16, a number nearly triple the total number of claims filed in the state in all of 2019, which was 20,500.

But 2019 was before COVID-19 struck, and now each week seems to bring with it a replay of the same woeful economic song.

The U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday, April 23, that the week ending April 18 saw another 4.4 million Americans filing jobless claims, bringing to 26 million the number of claims filed since the pandemic hit.

Figures released Thursday by Job Service North Dakota show that 9,165 people in North Dakota filed unemployment claims last week. The number helped push total jobless claims filed in the state since mid-March to 59,263, a number that was reached Wednesday.

Job Service officials say that as of the middle of last week, about 1,300 new unemployment insurance cases were being filed daily in North Dakota.

According to Job Service, 1,606 people filed initial unemployment claims last week in Cass County.

Statewide, the job category with the most unemployment claims filed last week was the health care and social assistance field with 1,364 claims, followed by mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction with 1,186 claims and accommodation and food services with 1,052 claims.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reported Thursday that since mid-March, 526,218 people had filed initial unemployment claims. About 74,887 of those claims were filed last week.

Since mid-March, Clay County has seen about 2,155 initial claims filed, or about 6% of the county's 2019 labor force, according to numbers from Minnesota.

Also Thursday, the U.S. Labor Department reported that the advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate stood at 11% for the week ending April 11, an increase of 2.8 percentage points from the previous week's rate of 8.2%.

The 11% rate is the highest level of the advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate in history. Before the pandemic hit, the previous high was 7% in May 1975.