McMaster: Unemployment tax rate for S.C. businesses will not increase in 2021

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced Thursday that the state’s unemployment insurance tax rates for businesses will remain unchanged or decrease for 2021, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even though we have gone through a terrific pandemic, we will not be raising taxes on the businesses for the unemployment insurance,” McMaster said.

The governor pointed out the General Assembly approved $920 million of the $1.9 billion in CARES Act funding the state received to go toward the unemployment trust fund, which will freeze 2021 tax rates at their 2020 levels and replenish the unemployment insurance trust fund balance.

McMaster said S.C. took a different approach during the pandemic in determining businesses where the coronavirus could spread more easily and closed those businesses for a period of timen.

“Our touch was lighter than most any in the country,” he said, adding the state’s unemployment rate is currently 5.1%

S.C. Department of Employment and Workplace Executive Director Dan Ellzey said the state’s unemployment rate was 2.5% back in February.

“Two months later, the bottom had been pulled out from under us and everything turned around,” Ellzey said, noting the unemployment rate jumped to 12.8% and the number jobs fell to roughly 2.07 million.

He added that the hospitality and food service industry lost half of their jobs.

Ellzey said that by September, the unemployment rate dropped to 5.1%, and the jobs climbed to about 2.27 million.

“The numbers were good,” he said.

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