First-time unemployment claims fell again in the latest report published by the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation. The report shows that during the week of March 21-27, the state processed 238 initial weekly claims. That's down 57 claims from last week's total of 295. For reference, the pre-pandemic average for weekly initial claims was 200 to 300.

Continued claims in the state rose to 4,911 for the week ending March 20. That's up 114 from last week's total of 4,827. This is the number of unemployed workers who are eligible for and continuing to receive benefits after their initial claim.

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For the week of March 21-27, South Dakota paid out $1.2 million in benefits. The total number of benefits paid out since March 16, 2020, rises slightly to $363.4 million.

Turning to the national numbers, initial claims rose this week, just one week after they dropped to their lowest level since the pandemic began.

According to Fox Business, another 719,000 Americans lost their job and filed an initial unemployment claim during the week of March 21-27. That's an increase of 61,000 over last week's revised number of 658,000. Analysts were expecting 680,000 claims last week. Before the pandemic, weekly initial claims averaged around 280,000.

Continued claims for the week ending March 20 rose to 3.794 million. Analysts were expecting 3.775 million claims.

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