In the last week of an additional federal unemployment benefit, South Carolina saw initial unemployment claims drop below 13,000 for the first time in 19 weeks.
For the week ending July 25, 12,194 people filed initial claims, according to the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. That number is down 2,152 from the previous week and marks the lowest number of claims since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the state.
“Our economy is gaining traction as business owners re-open with strict safety protocols, recall their workforces and recruit new employees,” Dan Ellzey, DEW executive director, said in a news release. “We are strongly encouraged by this downward trend in initial claims and the performance of the economy.”
Since the week ending March 14, 697,619 initial unemployment claims have been filed in South Carolina, and DEW has paid more than $3.6 billion in a combination of state and federal benefits.
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which provided an additional $600 per week to eligible claimants, ended in the state on July 25.
“It is important for all people receiving South Carolina unemployment benefits to understand that they will receive their last payment of the weekly FPUC $600 this week,” Ellzey said. “We recognize, however, that debate is taking place at this time in Washington over a possible extension of federal unemployment benefits. If there is no agreement, these payments will not be restarted. If there is agreement, it could take a while to implement a different federal program developed by Congress depending on the complexity of the changes. It is just not a matter of stopping and then re-starting the program.”
South Carolina announced an additional six weeks of benefits for eligible claimants on July 22.
Richland County saw 1,065 clams filed for the week ending July 25, while Lexington County had 631.s