Coronavirus Carnage: South Carolina Jobless Claims Surged Higher Than National Average

Unprecedented surge in initial unemployment claims …

The state of South Carolina’s initial jobless claims outpaced those reported across the nation during the first week of economic fallout from the 2019-2020 coronavirus outbreak – a bad sign for a workforce already lagging behind the rest of the nation.

Also, as we noted in our coverage of the unprecedented national numbers … the worst could be yet to come.

According to data released this week by the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW), there were 31,826 initial claims filed for the week ending March 21, 2020 – up an astonishing 1,420.6 percent from the previous week’s total of 2,093.

For those of you keeping score at home, those numbers included South Carolinians who live and work in the Palmetto State as well as those who live in South Carolina but work in other states.

Nationally, there were nearly 3.3 million claims – up 1,312 percent from the previous week’s total of 232,500 claims.  That print was nearly five times the previous record of 695,000 claims – set in October of 1982.

Here is the official release from the agency …

(Via: SCDEW)

Before the seismic economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, South Carolina long had one of the nation’s most anemic workforces.

According to January 2020 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Palmetto State had a working age population just shy of 4.1 million – with a workforce of just under 2.4 million. Its labor participation rate of 58.3 percent ranked fifth-lowest nationally.

South Carolina income levels also trail the national average by a considerable margin …

Translation? Expect for economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic/ panic to hit the Palmetto State harder than the rest of the nation. Especially considering so much of South Carolina’s economy is driven by tourism – a sector of the economy which is absolutely getting pounded right now.

Our view? At the state and national level, we clearly need to brace for unprecedented spikes in unemployment in the weeks and months to come – and set policies accordingly. As this data rolls in, however, we should remain mindful of the broader workforce situation in South Carolina – which was not exactly in good shape when this crisis hit.

Developing …


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