Weekly Jobless Claims Approach 8,000 in South Dakota

Apr 9, 2020

Credit Josh Haiar/SDPB

New claims for unemployment benefits continue to rise in South Dakota as the coronavirus spreads. 

There were 7,916 unemployment filings in South Dakota last week. It was the third consecutive week of record claims from pandemic-related job losses.  

State residents have filed a total of more than 16,000 unemployment claims since the pandemic’s impact on the economy first showed up in the numbers during mid-March. 

The claims are handled by the state’s Department of Labor and Regulation. Marcia Hultman runs the department and said more workers within state government have been transferred to a call center to handle the influx. 

“We have added capacity starting late last week that we have an additional 50 to 60 people answering phones at any one time,” Hultman said. “Our wait times have been greatly reduced today. I don’t want to jinx us, but great improvements there.” 

Hultman wants people to file online if possible at RAclaims.sd.gov. That can help limit wait times for callers. 

Unemployment benefits are paid from state trust funds, which are funded by employer taxes. Recent congressional funding has boosted benefits.  

People filing a claim can now receive up to $600 more per week than the state’s typical maximum of $414 per week. Small-business owners will also soon be eligible for benefits, and so will independent contractors and gig workers. 

Nationally, unemployment claims fell slightly last week but still numbered 6.6 million. Total U.S. jobless claims in the past three weeks are nearly 17 million.