The number of unemployment insurance claims filed in the Palmetto State and Aiken County continued to trend downward, with the count for both declining for the fourth consecutive week.
According to a news release issued Thursday by the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, or DEW, there were 5,921 requests for assistance during the seven-day period ending Aug. 8.
The number represented a decrease of 2,988 from the total of 8,909 for the week ending Aug. 1.
The most recent number also was the lowest that has been recorded so far during a seven-day period since the novel coronavirus pandemic began disrupting the Palmetto State’s economy in mid-March.
In Aiken County, 160 claims were filed during the week ending Aug. 8. There were 245 requests for assistance during the seven-day period ending Aug. 1.
The count in Edgefield County was 39 for the week ending Aug. 8, and the number was 36 in Barnwell County.
DEW’s statistics are based on initial unemployment claims that individuals file after separation from an employer and are reported before eligibility for benefits has been determined.
“A new milestone has been reached as initial claims numbers come in under 6,000 new filers this week,” said DEW Executive director Dan Ellzey. “However, to keep things in context, this is still three times higher than the weekly totals we were experiencing in the weeks prior to the COVID-19 pandemic fully affecting South Carolina.
“We know that South Carolinians are anxiously waiting for details about this weekend’s memorandum signed by President (Donald) Trump that would provide additional benefits for eligible claimants,” he continued. “While we do not yet have guidance from the Department of Labor on how to implement this program, we do know several things. First, there will be additional funds added to an eligible claimant’s weekly benefit amount. Second, the payments will be made retroactive to the claim week ending Aug. 1, 2020. For that reason, it is critical for claimants to continue certifying each week that they are unemployed to ensure any back pay owed to them is processed without delay.
“Due to the expected guidance requiring coding changes to our system, we do want claimants to understand that it will likely take several weeks before any additional retroactive benefits will be paid out,” Ellzey concluded.
During the pandemic, there have been 712,449 claims for jobless aid in South Carolina. DEW has paid out more than $3.75 billion in state unemployment insurance and federal benefits.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that the number of Americans applying for unemployment dropped below 1 million last week for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak took hold in the U.S. five months ago, but layoffs are still running extraordinarily high.
The figures show that the crisis continues to throw people out of work just as the expiration of an extra $600 a week in federal jobless benefits has deepened the hardship for many – and posed another threat to the U.S. economy.
Applications for jobless benefits declined to 963,000, the second straight drop, from 1.2 million the previous week, the government said. That signals layoffs are slowing, though the weekly figure still far exceeds the pre-outbreak record of just under 700,000, set in 1982.