Last March, pandemic-related layoffs began to hit South Dakota's job market hard. But after a record-setting initial spike in initial unemployment claims that hovered around 6,000 to 8,000 for several weeks in March and April, things began to slowly normalize. One year later, South Dakota's initial claims have dipped back down to pre-pandemic levels for two weeks in a row.

Initial jobless claims remained nearly flat in the latest report from the Department of Labor and Regulation. A total of 293 initial weekly claims were filed for the week ending March 13, 2021. That's down five from last week's report. This total remains within the window of pre-pandemic levels when the average was between 200 and 300 claims.

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Continued claims saw a decrease of 621 from last week, coming in at 5,050 for the week ending March 6. This number indicates the number of unemployed workers eligible for and receiving benefits after their initial claim.

The state paid out $1.3 million in benefits for the week ending March 13. A total of around $356.9 million has been paid out since March 16, 2020.

While the job market in South Dakota is doing well, it's a different story nationwide. Fox Business reports that another 770,000 Americans lost their job last week. That's up from up about 53,000 from last week and higher than the 700,000 analysts were expecting.

This week's number remains about four times higher than pre-pandemic levels, but much lower than last March when a record-setting 7 million initial claims were filed as states began issuing stay-at-home orders.

Continuing claims fell 18,000 from the last report, coming in around 4.1 million.

There are around 9.5 million fewer jobs today than in February 2020.

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