HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, thousands in South Carolina are unable to work following orders to shutdown from state and national leaders.
However, most are eligible for unemployment but the process is leaving many frustrated. Most trying to file for unemployment are spending the majority of their day stuck on the computer. They said the filing process isn’t hard to understand but the online system has been extremely slow.
”Employers around this area have lost money because of these decisions being made. It’s something that’s very uncertain for a business owner right now,” said Frank Espinal, who is the owner of Ship On Site but also serves as a chapter president for Business Network International.
While businesses try to adapt, many are forced to cut staff, particularly restaurant and retail workers who can receive six weeks of unemployment benefits from the state without having to search for another job. However, their employers will have to apply for it.
”There are unemployment benefits out there right now and there will be more coming as additional steps are being taken in Washington, D.C.,” said Gov. Henry McMaster.
Unemployment claims spiked to 281,000 nationwide last week, the highest level in two and a half years which has slowed down the online system.
”We’ve had a number of claims coming in like we’ve never experienced before with the computer so we’ve added capacity to it about midday and it has been running fine ever since,” said Dan Ellzey, executive director of S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.
Here in South Carolina, the state’s Department of Employment and Workforce reported a 400% increase in claims filed this week but hopes to get people their checks quicker than normal.
”Prior to the executive order with average employer response and to the reason of the termination or separation for the first benefit check, with the executive order it will take one week. If it is an employer filed claim, it will be approximately three days,” said Ellzey.
S.C. DEW said a majority of the claims applications are workers in the hospitality industry, the backbone of the Grand Strand.
”They are in survival mode right now and making some really difficult decisions,” said Karen Riordan, CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
As for those small business owners still open.
”This is something we fully don’t understand what the impact is going to be. We have a lot of speculation out there, but as a business owner we don’t know what is going to happen day-to-day so that’s how we’re taking it,” said Espinal.
Documents you must have before filing include pay stubs, social security number and employer information.