Tens of thousands of people continue to apply for unemployment benefits in South Carolina, according to the state Department of Employment and Workforce.
The agency received a record 85,000 initial claims in the week ending April 4, an increase of roughly 31% from the previous week’s 64,856 claims and a 4,159% increase from the week ending March 14, when fewer than 2,000 claims were filed.
“We know there is a continued uncertainty, and many people are having problems filing claims. 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,” Dan Elizey, DEW’s executive director, said in a statement Friday, April 17.
The agency has already processed more than a quarter of a million claims in the last month, Elizey said. “Prior to that, we processed approximately 7,000 claims per month.”
Since March 21, the agency has paid out a total of $67.5 million in unemployment benefits and another $105.1 in federal stimulus money available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. South Carolina was one of the first states to pay out money from the program, which gives the jobless a $600-a-week bonus on top of standard unemployment benefits.
Of the 85,000 new claims filed in the week ending April 4, nearly 10,000 were from Greenville County and 6,000 were from Spartanburg County. Pickens County saw 2,153 new claims, Anderson County had 3,224 and Oconee County had 1,178, according to data from the Department of Employment and Workforce.
To handle the influx, DEW has added additional staff members to assist claimants by phone and expects to have 500 customer service representatives by next week, Elizey said.