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Carbon sees unemployment double

Carbon County has seen a significant growth in the number of unemployment claims since the pandemic began, officials said Thursday.

Commissioner Chris Lukasevich reported that for January and February, the number of unemployment claims in Carbon County was 1,000. Comparing those two months to a two-week period - March 28 and April 4 - the number of unemployment claims that have been filed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic jumped to over 2,000.

“It’s basically a 100 percent increase in claims over a two-week period compared to a two-month period,” Lukasevich said. “No doubt the economy in Carbon County is being affected.”

He also said that two local financial institutions - Mauch Chunk Trust Company and Jim Thorpe Neighborhood Bank - have really been stepping up to help small businesses and consumers.

Through the Small Business Association’s Paycheck Protection Program, the two banks, as of 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, have received 203 applications for loans, with 97 applications being approved and 106 pending to date.

Lukasevich said the amount loaned to those small businesses that received approval as of Wednesday’s deadline is approximately $9.22 million.

He commended both Mauch Chunk Trust and Jim Thorpe Neighborhood Bank for recognizing the need of helping small businesses to allow for a successful outcome once the pandemic ends and life resumes.

He also said that Jim Thorpe Neighborhood Bank President and CEO Craig Zurn said the bank is deferring loan payments for business and consumer borrowers.

In addition, Mauch Chunk Trust is accepting small-business applications from current customers, and noncustomers as well.

“We are all in this together,” the bank said.

“It’s great to see what the staff of these banks are doing to support our small businesses in Carbon County,” Lukasevich said.