First-time unemployment claims tick back up above 3,000

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 12:36 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - The number of first-time unemployment claims for the week ending Saturday rose back above 3,000 after dropping below that number for only the third time since the pandemic began.

The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce said Thursday morning the total number of claims received last week totaled 3,088, a rise of more than 200 over the previous week’s total of 2,856.

Greenville and Spartanburg Counties reported the highest number of claims, with 299 and 292, respectively. Richland County had the third-highest total with 251 and Oconee County had the fourth-highest at 231.

Charleston County’s 154 put it in sixth place behind Horry County, which reported 158.

During the last week, the state paid out $61 million in federal and state unemployment benefits.

Since the pandemic began in mid-March 2020, the state has paid more than $6 billion.

Gov. Henry McMaster ordered SCDEW last week to end the state’s participation in all federal pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs on June 30.

He said he took the action to address ongoing workforce shortages.

“This labor shortage is being created in large part by the supplemental unemployment payments that the federal government provides claimants on top of their state unemployment benefits,” McMaster said.

Those programs include the following:

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (EPUC)
  • Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC)
  • Emergency Unemployment Relief for Governmental Entities and Nonprofit Organizations
  • Temporary Federal Funding of the First Week of Compensable Regular Unemployment for States with No Waiting Week

“In many instances, these payments are greater than the worker’s previous pay checks,” McMaster said. “What was intended to be a short-term financial assistance for the vulnerable and displaced during the height of the pandemic has turned into a dangerous federal entitlement, incentivizing and paying workers to stay at home rather than encouraging them to return to the workplace.”

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