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Jobless claims hit record high

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(NBC News/WSAV) – Nearly 3.3. million Americans filed jobless claims last week, a dire snapshot of just how quickly the coronavirus pandemic has devastated the nation’s businesses and workers.

Still, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is reassuring the country that the economy will bounce back.

“We will get the spread of the virus under control, at that time confidence will return, businesses will open again people will come back to work,” Powell says.

He spoke hours after the Senate reached agreement on a $2 trillion economic relief bill to help people and businesses blindsided by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Senate bill will send direct payments to Americans whose earnings fall under certain limits, $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for families, plus an extra $500 for every child.

It also includes loans for corporations and small businesses, with incentives to keep workers on the payroll, relief for the nation’s hospitals, and expanded unemployment benefits which would mean four months of full paychecks for laid-off workers.

In South Carolina, the Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) says the number of submitted claims increased last week by 1600 percent. The coastline — including Beaufort, Charleston and Horry Counties — is taking one of the biggest hits.

“Obviously, a great deal of hospitality, tourism, restaurants I’m seeing — they’re trending in that direction,” said DEW Chief Administrative Officer Jamie Suber. “Those industries have been impacted the most. Our hearts go out to those individuals.”

Last week, South Carolinians filed 31,054 claims. The previous week’s count was 1,996.

Source: South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce

In Georgia, the number of unemployment claims more than doubled. 12,140 Georgians filed unemployment claims last week, compared to 5,445 the week before.

The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) is anticipating more unemployment claims and says it is “already seeing a higher number of claims than were filed during the 2008-2009 recession.”

To help, GDOL has extended the amount of time someone can collect unemployment from 14 to 26 weeks.

The department also changed eligibility requirements. For now, you can file a claim if:

  • You take on a part-time job and make less than $300 per week
  • You were temporarily laid off and plan to return to your job
  • You are staying home due to COVID-19 and plan on returning to work

GDOL Commissioner Mark Butler told News 3 last week the department will be ‘liberal’ with the approval process.

Georgia Congressman Buddy Carter says Washington’s $3 trillion stimulus package will help even more. He says he plans to vote in favor of the bill, which is expected to move to the House on Friday.

“I do have concerns. $3 trillion is a lot of money. It’s almost 1/10 of our entire national debt, but this is going to come back to us. We’re going to get our economy going again,” said Rep. Carter.

If you are filing for unemployment in South Carolina, click here.

If you are filing for unemployment in Georgia, click here.

Both states require that you file your claim online. Georgia also allows applicants to file over the phone. Last week, it closed offices — including its Savannah office — to the general public.

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