Horry County leads state with most new unemployment claims

Horry County leads state with most new unemployment claims

CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - At this time last year, the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce reporter that 891 people filed initial unemployment claims in Horry County at the peak of pandemic shutdowns.

That’s compared to just two people filing in the same week back in 2019, according to the agency.

Now, the department said 367 new claims were filed this past week in Horry County alone.

It accounted for the highest new claims statewide, despite the county not being the most populated.

Brian Nottingham, the DEW’s labor market information director, said it’s not easy to say why Horry had the most initial claims.

“It takes anywhere from three to five years to hit peak unemployment, and sometimes it’ll take two to three years to come back down into recovery,” he said. “With the COVID and the forced closure, legislative closure, executive order closures, we’d see a recession take a couple of years to unfold. We went from record low unemployment to record high unemployment in the course of three months. Statewide we saw some trends; it’s a lot of hospitality industry claims again.”

With full-service restaurants taking the lead statewide, the department says they accounted for 391 new claims statewide.

The next highest came from hospitality industries like hotels and motels, with 133 new claims.

Despite this, many restaurant owners say they’re struggling to find employees to work.

Many across the county say the demand from customers is there, just not from workers.

“It’s tough to say exactly what’s going on. I think it all ties into the unemployment benefits, the additional federal funding of $300 a week,” Nottingham said.

In the next few weeks, the work search requirement will get added back, meaning those on unemployment across the state will have to show proof of two job searches a week to continue receiving benefits.

On Friday the department will release new unemployment and labor force participation numbers for the month of February 2021.

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