A huge drop in initial weekly unemployment benefit claims was reported in South Dakota in the latest numbers released on Thursday, June 4.

According to the data from the Department of Labor, the state processed 1,435 initial weekly claims for unemployment benefits for the period between May 24 through May 30.

This week's number is a drop of almost 60% from the 3,471 claims filed the week before and it's the lowest weekly number since the COVID-19 layoffs began in mid-March when initial claims reached 1,703 for the week ending March 21.

Dakota News Now points out that while unemployment claims are down, they still remain well above average for South Dakota. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state average was around 200-300 claims per week.

State Labor and Regulation Secretary Marcia Hultman said the number of continued claims is 22,454 for the week ending May 16.  This represents the number of unemployed workers eligible for and receiving benefits after their initial claim.

South Dakota has paid out $3.9 million was paid out in state benefits and $12.0 million in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.

Hultman says, "Substitute teachers and school workers who work only during the school year are no longer eligible to receive unemployment benefits because they would not typically be working during the summer.  She says, “One exception is federal teachers and school workers, such as BIA employees.”

The same weekly downward trend seen in South Dakota is happening nationwide.  About 1.9 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, down from 2.1 million last week.  The total number of nationwide first-time unemployment claims since the pandemic started is 42.7 million.

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