HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Applications for unemployment benefits in Montana have declined as the state continued to lift closures designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Federal officials say 2,874 people in Montana filed new applications for job assistance last week.

That's a decrease of nearly 25% from a week earlier.

But it's 280% higher than the same week last year. Nearly 24% of the state's workforce has been unemployed at some point since March 14.

Two weeks ago, just over 47,000 people were receiving unemployment benefits.

Montana also has reported 20 new cases of COVID-19 from tests run Monday through Wednesday.

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