The U.S. Department of Labor reported close to 99,000 additional unemployment insurance claims in the last week from Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia, as state unemployment offices worked their way through a backlog of millions of claims filed since the coronavirus pandemic forced business closures beginning in March.

For the week ending May 16, Kentucky reported 47,036 claims, Ohio had 46,494, and West Virginia reported 4,853. Nearly 2.5 million people have filed unemployment insurance claims in the three states since mid-March.

Nationally, the Labor Dept. reported 2.4 million unemployment claims for the week, bringing the total of jobless Americans seeking help to a staggering 38.6 million over the last nine weeks.

Jeff Young is managing editor of the Ohio Valley ReSource, a journalism collaboration led by Louisville Public Media.