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State unemployment rate edges upward in February

Staff Report //March 27, 2020//

State unemployment rate edges upward in February

Staff Report //March 27, 2020//

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South Carolina’s unemployment rate ticked upward in February in the first such increase since August 2019.

Unemployment increased to 2.5% from January’s rate of 2.4%, according to S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce figures. The department’s monthly survey of state households found unemployment estimates increased to 58,614 people, an increase of 2,015 from January but down 21,956 from February 2019.

The estimated number of South Carolinians worked increased by 2,720 from January to a record 2,333,217. That number is up 43,727 since February 2019. The state’s estimated labor force, or people working plus those looking for work, climbed to 2,391,831, an increase of 4,735 from January and 21,771 from February 2019.

The national unemployment rate dropped to 3.5% in February from 3.6% in January.

Unemployment in February edged up in Richland County to 2.9% from 2.8% in January. In February 2019, county unemployment stood at 3.1%.

Lexington County saw an increase to 2.5% in February from 2.3% in January. Unemployment in the county stood at 2.7% in February 2019.

For the week ending March 21, unemployment insurance claims in the state soared to 31,054, an increase of approximately 1600% from the previous week’s total of 1,996.

DEW reiterated in a Friday news release that its unemployment insurance claims process is 100% online while acknowledging issues with social security numbers being validated. The national hub that validates the numbers is being overwhelmed, according to the DEW release, and is working to expand its database capacity. DEW asked South Carolinians to try to make claims during non-peak hours.

DEW has set up a website with answers to frequently asked questions related to the COVID-19 crisis. The site also has a list of essential businesses looking for employees.