South Dakota unemployment levels remain at historically high levels due to the effects of COVID-19 related layoffs, Dakota News Now reports.

Unemployment benefit claims in the state rose only slightly for the week of April 19 through 25, up 94 from the previous week.  According to the South Dakota Department of Labor, 5,389 people filed for unemployment benefits last week.

In normal times, weekly unemployment claims in South Dakota are around 200.  Claims spiked in the last six weeks as the pandemic related layoffs began.

More than 34,000 South Dakotans have filed for unemployment benefits since mid-March, about seven percent of the state's workforce, according to the Department of Labor.

“Unemployment claims continue to steadily roll in at historic levels,” state Labor and Regulation Secretary Marcia Hultman told Dakota News Now. “The department is monitoring the ever-changing COVID-19 situation to determine the appropriate level of staffing to process and pay claims in a timely manner.”

The Labor Department reports the latest number of continued claims is 19,664 for the week ending April 11. This represents the number of unemployed workers eligible for and receiving benefits after their initial claim.

Nationally, another 3.8 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment claims, bringing the total to 30.3 million, or 18.6% of the total workforce.

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