As South Dakota businesses begin to reopen after shuttering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing a substantial drop in unemployment claims in the state.

However, while claims continue to fall week after week, overall they are still much higher than normal as Dakota News Now reports.

The South Dakota Department of Labor says 3806 initial weekly claims for unemployment benefits were processed last week.  That's down 1400 from the prior week.

Weekly claims peaked at 7900 in Mid-March at the beginning of the shutdown.  That was a huge shock for a state that typically only processes 200-300 weekly claims.

Officials say $4.7 million in state benefits has been paid out and another $13.7 million has been paid out in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits.

On May 17, the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund balance was $99.3 million.

Continued claims for the week ending May 2 is 23,388.  According to the Department of Labor, this indicates the number of unemployed workers eligible for and receiving benefits after their initial claim.

Dakota News Now reports the state has processed about 47,000 unemployment assistance claims since mid-March when COVID-19 related shutdowns began affecting businesses.

The Labor department reminds claimants to complete their weekly requests for payment by answering all questions correctly and clicking the submit button.

Another 2.4 million people applied for unemployment assistance last week nationwide.  Since the pandemic began, the total number of U.S. workers who have applied for assistance is near 39 million, pushing the unemployment rate to its highest level since the Great Depression.

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