South Carolina sees a rise in jobless claims, but the national numbers are rosier

Published: Mar. 25, 2021 at 12:36 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce reported an increase in the past week in new unemployment claims over the previous week.

The agency received 3,066 claims during the week ending Saturday, an increase of more than 300 from the week ending March 13.

Horry County reported the highest number of new claims with 367.

In the past week, South Carolina paid out $71.5 million in state and federal benefits.

Since the pandemic began in mid-March of 2020, the state has paid out a total of more than $5.6 billion.

The national picture

Nationally, the number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply last week to 684,000, the fewest since the pandemic erupted a year ago and a sign that the economy is improving.

Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims fell from 781,000 the week before. It is the first time that weekly applications for jobless aid have fallen below 700,000 since mid-March of last year. Before the pandemic tore through the economy, applications had never topped that level.

The number of people seeking benefits under a federal program for self-employed and contract workers also dropped, to 241,000, from 284,000 a week earlier. All told, the number of applicants fell below 1 million for the first time since the pandemic.

Economists are growing more optimistic that the pace of layoffs, which has been chronically high for a full year, is finally easing.

“While the level of claims remains elevated,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, an economist at Oxford Economics, “we expect they will continue to recede as the recovery gains momentum.”

From reports by WCSC and The Associated Press