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Unemployment ticks up in survey completed March 12

Staff Report //April 17, 2020//

Unemployment ticks up in survey completed March 12

Staff Report //April 17, 2020//

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South Carolina’s unemployment rate edged upward in March in a monthly survey by the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce that predated many of the state closures related to the new coronavirus.

The seasonally adjusted monthly survey of state households found that S.C.’s unemployment rate climbed to 2.6% from 2.5% in February, while unemployment estimates increased to 61,898 people, an increase of 3,267 from February.

The estimated number of South Carolinians working increased 1,428 to a record 2,334,652, according to DEW. That represented an increase of 43,290 from March 2019.

“This survey was completed during the week of March 12,” Dan Ellzey, DEW executive director, said in a news release. “That was prior to the closings of many businesses and prior to our state truly experiencing the affects as we took shelter to combat COVID 19. We expect the release on May 22, 2020 to be a more accurate depiction of the current unemployment situation in our state.”

Nationally, unemployment climbed to 4.4% from 3.5% in February, the largest month-over-month change since January 1975.

South Carolina’s estimated labor force, or people working plus those looking for work, increased to 2,396,550, up 4,695 from February and 25,307 from March 2019.

Government reported a month-over-month increase of 900 employees, while the leisure and hospitality industry saw a decrease of 10,200 workers.

In Richland County, unemployment dropped to 2.8% in March from 2.9% in February. In March 2019, unemployment stood at 3.3% in the county. Lexington County saw a drop in March to 2.4% from 2.5% in February. Unemployment stood at 2.8% in March 2019.

DEW said 87,686 people filed for unemployment from April 5 to April 11. The agency said it has processed 268,614 claims since the week ending March 14, when 1,996 claims were filed.   

“We know there is a continued uncertainty and many people are having problems filing claims,” Ellzey said. “It is our goal to work with every one of these individuals to ensure their claim is filed and that they get a proper adjudication of it. While we are working with these individuals, we have been processing more than a quarter of a million claims within the last month. Prior to that, we processed approximately 7,000 claims per month.”