The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce processed 180,928 unemployment claims in the past three weeks, compared to 5,862 the previous three weeks, and paid nearly $18.5 million in claims from March 15-April 4.
For the week ending April 4, initial claims in South Carolina totaled 85,018, an increase of approximately 31% from the previous week’s total of 64,856 and a 4,159% increase from the week ending March 14, when 1,996 claims were filed.
DEW call center staff has increased by 400% in the past two weeks to answer questions, the agency said in a news release. Also, DEW said the national database that validates social security numbers added server support in better accommodate the volume of requests.
“In South Carolina, we are seeing more claimants able to process and complete a claim without an SSN validation issue,” the release said.
In Horry County, 10,098 people filed an unemployment claim for the week ending April 4, while 9,919 did so in Greenville County. Charleston County saw 7,315 claims, Spartanburg 6,038, Richland 5,848 and Lexington 3,992.
On Wednesday, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order (.pdf) allowing furloughed employees to receive COVID-19 support payments from their employers and still qualify for unemployment benefits. The order directs DEW to consider a “voluntary payment, or series of payments, made by an employer to an employee in response to furloughing the employee” as a form of severance pay, meaning the furloughed employee will not lose eligibility for unemployment benefits.
“Every day, our primary objective is to protect South Carolinians, but we also must act to protect the state’s economy,” McMaster said in a news . “This order does both. It allows our businesses to take care of their employees as best as they can and will help our economy recover from this unprecedented time.”o