South Carolina sees week-over-week decline in jobless claims

Published: Apr. 23, 2020 at 9:00 AM EDT
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Thursday, April 23, 2020

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- In the week ending April 18, advance figures for South Carolina initial unemployment claims totaled 73,116, a decrease of 14,570 initial claims from the week before.

This is the first decrease recorded in initial claims since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March. The claims were still likely higher than they were a year ago.

“Our agency is heartened to see the first decrease in initial claims after so many weeks. We hope that this will begin to set a downward trend as individuals who have already filed continue to receive their benefits through this crisis and other claimants receive their funds through some of the additional federal programs we are still implementing,” Jamie Suber, state Department of Employment and Workforce chief of staff, said in a statement.

Highlights of what the agency is doing:

• The agency has paid more than $351 million in a combination of state unemployment benefits and the CARES Act $600 contribution.

• Over the past five weeks, these payments were made in support of the 341,730 initial claims received.

• Additional programs are being implemented in the system to begin paying federal funds through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. The agency’s call center has been increased by 856%. Customer service representatives are working 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to help with claims questions. Additionally, staff continue to work extended hours each weekday and through weekends making outbound calls to service the needs of fellow South Carolinians.

• A Chatbot feature has been added to the website to help answer unemployment and COVID-related questions. This enhancement is robust with information about the benefits process, federal funds provided through the CARES Act, employer filing, and more.

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