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S.C. uneployment rate in May showed slight improvement over April

The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce says the number of initial...
The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce says the number of initial unemployment claims received through the week ending Saturday was twice that of the previous week.(AP)
Updated: Jun. 20, 2020 at 6:51 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - South Carolina’s hard-hit hospitality industry has clawed back some of the jobs lost amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to newly-released numbers.

That news comes as businesses across the state continue to reopen and new COVID-19 case numbers continue to soar. The Department of Employment and Workforce announced Friday the state’s May jobless rate stood at 12.5%, a slight improvement over a record-setting revised April rate of 12.8%.

Many gains came in the hospitality sector, which posted more than 36,000 new jobs.

The latest weekly numbers released from SCDEW showed a slight decrease in the number of new unemployment claims, with Charleston County reporting the third-highest number of claims in the week that ended June 13. But the agency says that since mid-March when the pandemic began, more than 600,000 South Carolinians have filed an initial claim for unemployment.

Also on Friday, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said an additional 1,081 people had tested positive for coronavirus, a new single-day record, for a total number of more than 22,600 across the state.

The surge in cases is prompting some restaurants and other businesses that had previously reopened to temporarily close again as they learn of employees testing positive for COVID-19.

DHEC says it is up to individual businesses whether they will close or continue to operate after a team member tests positive. DHEC Physician Brannon Traxler said they’re asking businesses to contact them for guidance if an employee tests positive for COVID-19, but only if that business chooses to reach out to the agency.

DHEC’s Chief of Staff Jennifer Reed said closing down any business is for Gov. Henry McMaster to decide, not DHEC.

Copyright 2020 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.