Initial unemployment claims fell dramatically for the week ending July 24, dropping by almost 1,000 to 1,479 from 2,403 for the week ending July 17.
It is the smallest number of initial claims since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the economy and sent much of the workforce home, peaking at more than 80,000 weekly initial claims for two weeks in April 2020, according to information provided by the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.
More people in Oconee County, 146, filed for unemployment benefits for the first time during the week of July 24 than in any other Palmetto State county. Other counties with leading numbers included Greenville with 139 initial claims, Richland with 120, Charleston with 75, Berkeley with 63 and Horry with 60, according to DEW data.
S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster directed federal program benefits to phase out in the state by the end of June, saying they disincentivized the state’s workforce by bringing a total unemployment benefit that surpassed some workers’ earnings when fully employed.
Since March 15, 2020, DEW handled 914,225 initial claims, paying out more than $6.5 billion in state and federal benefits, the agency said in a news release. For the week ending July 24, the state payout for all unemployment claims was almost $8.5 million.