Unemployment benefits paid to South Dakotans have totaled $87.8 million since the pandemic began affecting the state’s economy in mid-March.
That’s according to Marcia Hultman, the head of the state Department of Labor and Regulation.
“Eight weeks ago it was like a light switch was flipped, and claims instantly – and to a degree never before seen – began to hit our system,” Hultman said.
She said about a third of the payments, equaling $28.1 million, are from the state’s Unemployment Trust Fund. The rest, equaling $59.7 million, are from the federal government. The federal money is the result of pandemic relief legislation.
Hultman said there were 11 state employees handling unemployment claims before the pandemic. Now there are 70.
About 43,000 South Dakotans have filed initial unemployment claims since mid-March. Not all of those people qualify or continue to receive benefits. The number currently receiving benefits is about 24,000.