Unemployment Payments To South Dakotans During Pandemic Surpass $300 Million

Sep 24, 2020

Unemployment payments to South Dakotans, by source, since March 16.
Credit Josh Haiar / SDPB

Government payments to unemployed South Dakotans during the pandemic have surpassed $300 million.

That’s happened in just the past six months. South Dakota Labor Secretary Marcia Hultman said it’s a historic figure.

“To put that in perspective, that $300 million is more than we’ve paid out in the last decade in benefits," Hultman told the state's Workforce Development Council on Wednesday.

Nearly 75 percent of the money is from the federal government. The state has paid the rest from a tax on employers that funds South Dakota's unemployment insurance trust fund.

Here are the total unemployment payouts to South Dakotans, by funding source, since March 16:

  • $204.7 million from Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which is the now-expired $600 extra weekly benefit;
  • $81.4 million from South Dakota's state unemployment insurance trust fund;
  • $13.7 million from federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which extends benefits to the self-employed, independent contractors and gig workers;
  • $1.7 million from federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which extends unemployment benefits for 13 weeks after regular benefits are exhausted.

During the worst week for unemployment in April, more than 8,000 South Dakotans filed new claims for unemployment assistance. Last week the number was about 500, which was still much higher than normal numbers from past years. Currently, about 7,000 South Dakotans are receiving benefits.

Hultman said fraud has also increased. She said the department has received fraudulent claims for dead people, and from dozens of people registered to a single address. She said up to two-thirds of claims have been fraudulent on some days.

-Seth Tupper is SDPB's business and economic development reporter.