For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, unemployment claims were down last week in South Dakota.
But the trend isn’t expected to last.
Weekly claims in the state were 6,152 for the week ending April 11. That's down from the previous week’s revised figure of 8,138 – which was the highest-ever weekly number for the state.
It seems like good news, but Gov. Kristi Noem said it's likely to be short-lived. That’s because new federal rules are just kicking in that extend benefits to the self-employed, independent contractors and gig workers.
“They’re not the typical individuals that would sign up and file for unemployment,” Noem said Thursday during a press conference. “The fact that this will be their first opportunity, we’re expecting a big surge.”
It’s been about four weeks since the pandemic started sending people to the unemployment rolls in South Dakota. So far, about 23,000 people have filed for unemployment.
Nationally, claims were down slightly last week to about 5 million. Since the pandemic began, 22 million people in the U.S. have applied for unemployment.
Weekly unemployment payments are available to people who’ve lost work through no fault of their own. The money comes from state trust funds, supported by employer taxes. Recent congressional measures let people get larger payments for a longer time during the pandemic.
South Dakotans are encouraged to file claims online at raclaims.sd.gov.
– Seth Tupper is SDPB’s business and economic development reporter.