SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Both South Carolina and Georgia had fewer people filing for unemployment claims for the week ending June 27.
While initial claims are down, there are still concerns about what’s next as COVID-19 cases surge.
“If this continues to worsen and individuals continue to be tested and unable to work and are out on quarantine that does have a correlation to individuals coming into the unemployment insurance system,” said Jamie Suber who is the chief of staff of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.
Suber said while about 139 fewer people filed for unemployment benefits last week, that nearly 17 thousand people did file claims. However, he also said that is certainly down from the peak of up to 80,000 per week which occurred early on in the pandemic.
With states like South Carolina and Georgia reopening in the month and now word COVID-19 cases are surging, Huber said it is certainly creating uncertainty.
“We try to look at week over week to see whether it is trending up or trending down to just try to get a better understanding of what’s really happening,” he said.
Dan Ellzey, executive director of the S.C Department of Employment and Workforce said “while the number of people seeking first-time unemployment assistance fell, the state is not seeing the
movement week-over-week for which we hoped for. There are still a lot of questions and unknowns as to what the future will hold, how long this economic stall will go on and what the true magnitude of the impact will truly be.”
** In the claim week ending June 27, 16,959 people filed their initial claim for unemployment insurance.
** This is an decrease of 139 initial claims from the week prior.
** In the last 15 weeks, the total number of initial claims has risen to 635,688 in South Carolina.
** The agency has paid more than $2.72 billion in a combination of state and federal benefits including the CARES Act and special pandemic assistance
** 117,485 claims were filed last week which is down by about 8,000 claims from the week before.
** The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) says it has paid more than $7.5 billion in state and federal unemployment benefits over the past 15 weeks.
** This includes regular state and federal Unemployment Insurance, Pandemic Extended Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC).
The GDOL said it has issued payments to 91 percent of claimants.
“The claims numbers continue to improve each week,” said Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler.
“As we continue to process and issue payments, we have also been strengthening our options for employees re-entering the workforce,” said Butler. “Reemployment assistance is a large part of the GDOL service strategy and as we begin to pivot the focus to Georgians getting back to work, we want to make sure we promote our expansive resources.”
At this time, GDOL career centers are remaining closed to the public. All online services are still available and officials say the staff continues to answer calls, process claims, respond to customer inquiries, and provide assistance to applicants. The GDOL says it will reopen offices to the public as soon as social distancing can be effectively implemented to protect both staff and customers.