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South Carolina sees drop in initial unemployment claims, more jobs open up

Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 5:20 PM EDT
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - With just one more full claim week left until South Carolina ditches the extra federal pandemic unemployment benefits, the state is seeing large drops in initial unemployment claims.

“With more and more open jobs and greater possibilities I think people are finding positions they’d prefer to have as opposed to continued unemployment benefits,” Brian Nottingham, director of labor market information for the South Carolina Department of Workforce and Employment, said.

Horry County is a part of this statewide trend. Only 81 people throughout the whole county filed an initial claim for the week of June 6, according to the DEW.

Just a few months ago, over the week of March 14, Horry County saw 367 new unemployment claims.

In March 2020, they were sky-high at 891.

Nottingham said this is a sign the workforce is well on its way to getting back on track.

“Of course the state is wide open so we’d expect to see claim activity return back to normal,” he said.

Not only are fewer people filing new claims, but there are also jobs for them to take.

The latest information from the DEW showed there are at least 89,538 open jobs statewide.

Still, the latest numbers from April show there were 8,199 people in Horry County who were unemployed. May’s numbers will get released by the department on June 23.

“At this point last month, South Carolina had more job opening than we have seen in around a decade. So there is acute pressure in the job market. We have a huge need for employees. When I say highest in almost a decade, these aren’t just replacing COVID layoffs, these are COVID layoffs and then another 15 to 20%,” Nottingham said.

As more and more workers rejoin the labor market, Nottingham said he expects South Carolina’s economy to propel ahead of the rest of the nation.

“As of last month, we were sitting around 5%. If we consider full employment 2.5-3%, we’re really not far off.”

Claims for the extra $300 a week from the federal government end June 26.

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