Unemployment claims are on the rise again in S.C., though the state agency keeping track of them said that may be more attributable to the Fourth of July holiday than the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 19,329 people who filed initial claims for the week ending July 11 represented an increase of 3,267 claims from the week prior, according to data from the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.
In the last 17 weeks, 671,079 initial claims have been filed in the state, and DEW has paid more than $3.15 billion in a combination of state and federal benefits.
“The week following the Fourth of July has historically recorded a higher number of initial claims, as it represents layoffs and closings for the holiday week,” Dan Ellzey, DEW executive director, said in a news release. “When an individual files for unemployment insurance, they are filing for layoff or lack of work for the prior week. What we see is a trend, mainly due to businesses, often in the manufacturing sector, closing operations for a week or two around this summer holiday each year.”
Ellzey said that while the initial claims for the week in 2020 are “significantly higher in volume,” the percentage increase of 20.3% is lower than 2019 (79%) and 2018 (51%).
“While an upward trend is not something we ever want to see, we do believe this trend is isolated and isn’t solely pinpointed to impacts from COVID-19,” Ellzey said.
Greenville County led the state with 1,755 initial claims filed for the week, while Richland County had 1,349. Spartanburg County saw 1,277, Charleston County 1,051, Sumter County 891, Horry County 874 and Lexington County 752.o