Unemployment claims increase across U.S. but impact to SC still unknown

Published: Mar. 19, 2020 at 6:06 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor announced unemployment insurance claims increased by 70,000 between March 7 and March 14.

This is the highest increase in claims since September 2017. The department attributes the drastic rise to impacts from COVID-19.

“A number of states specifically cited COVID-19-related layoffs, while many states reported increased layoffs in service-related industries broadly and in the accommodation and food services industries specifically, as well as in the transportation and warehousing industry, whether COVID-19 was identified directly or not,” the department stated in a press release on Thursday.

Despite the surge, the claims will likely increase further since the data comes before many states closed bars and dine-in services.

Individual states are already sharing the numbers from this week and the impact is even greater.

In Oregon, claims increased by close to 18,000 in the first half of the week.

Ohio’s lieutenant governor reported 78,000 unemployment claims were filed from Sunday and Tuesday, nearly 30,000 in one day, according to a NPR interview.

Greater still, California’s governor shared Wednesday 190,000 claims were filed in California between Sunday and Tuesday.

Bars and dine-in services closed Wednesday in South Carolina. The same day, the state’s Department of Employment and Workforce said it experienced unprecedented levels of calls and user activity in its benefits self-service portals.

According to SCDEW, the organization answered more than 4,000 calls Wednesday.

The department said it was unable to report how many claims it received in the past few days, but said 400% more claims were filed so far this week than last week.

SCDEW said it cannot release weekly numbers, only monthly numbers. DOL is responsible for publishing the weekly statistics. It’s still not clear why other states are allowed to report these numbers while South Carolina said it cannot.

Federal data reveals South Carolina reported 1,995 claims filed last week and 1,889 the week before.

North Carolina announced the closure of its bars and dine-in services the same day South Carolina did. The state’s Department of Commerce said nearly 18,000 unemployment claims were filed between Tuesday afternoon and Thursday morning. A spokesperson said usually there is an average of 3,000 claims filed a week.

For more information on filing an unemployment claim in South Carolina, click here.

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