A Year After Covid-19 Shutdowns, Initial Jobless Claims In South Carolina Still Searching For ‘Normal’

Trends are encouraging … but will new “stimulus” incentivize additional joblessness?

A year after government-driven shutdowns related to the coronavirus pandemic plunged the American economy into a historic recession, the employment situation in South Carolina still hasn’t returned to “normal.”

But it’s close …

According to the latest data from the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW), a total of 3,066 new initial unemployment claims were filed in the Palmetto State during the week ending March 20, 2021 – the one-year anniversary of the unprecedented jobless spike accompanying the Covid-19 shutdowns.

During the previous week, new claims clocked in at 2,752, which was the second-lowest weekly reading since the pandemic-related shutdowns began.

These readings are modestly improved from the last time we checked in on initial claims … but are still above where they were before the pandemic.

(Click to view)

(Via: SCDEW)

Readers will recall slightly fewer than 2,100 initial claims were filed during the week ending March 14, 2020. Within a month, they had eclipsed 86,000 per week. In fact, during the first ten weeks of the Covid-19 lockdowns – from March 14 through May 23, 2020 – initial claims averaged more than 54,000 per week.

Talk about apocalyptic …

Payouts to claimants over the past year now total a staggering $5.64 billion – the vast majority of which has come from federal sources. However, $1.15 billion worth of unemployment benefits has been paid by the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) fund – which “Republican” politicians have previously used as a backdoor tax hike on businesses that were forced to lay off workers.

State lawmakers shored up this fund last fall with federal “stimulus” money in the hopes of avoiding such a tax hike in 2021, however it remains to be seen whether their efforts were sufficient to stave off yet another job-crippling tax hike.

Certainly, the ongoing incentivizing of dependency at the federal level does not bode well for this fund … nor for that matter the small businesses who are struggling mightily amid the current “recovery.”

Or the recovery itself …

“We cannot permit necessary recovery efforts to devolve into permanent dependency-inducing policies,” our founding editor Will Folks wrote last spring.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what appears to be happening …

After declining precipitously toward the end of 2020, unemployment payouts have spiked again in the aftermath of two federal “stimulus” bills – one signed back in December by former U.S. president Donald Trump and a much larger bill rammed through the Democratic congress earlier this month.

During the week ending March 20, a total of $71.5 million in benefits was paid out – including $5.56 million in state UI funds. All told, 125,047 South Carolinians were on the dole last week – nearly twice as many as at the start of the year.

Stay tuned … we expect to get a much better picture of the employment situation in South Carolina tomorrow when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases its February 2021 employment situation reports for all fifty states.

To read our coverage of the most recent report, click here.




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