South Carolina sees record-breaking weekly unemployment claims

Southeast Region

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The latest unemployment numbers from the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce show a record-breaking amount of filed claims over the week of Thanksgiving.

SCDEW has been reporting weekly initial claims since 1987. For the week ending on Nov. 27, it reported 776 claims. Not only is that the lowest weekly number on record — but also the first time it was under 1,000.

“We’ve been on track for that for a while; we’ve been reporting historically low levels,” Erica Von Nessen, an economist with the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, said.

Von Nessen was anticipating a drop in claims during the week of Thanksgiving, but she said these low levels have been on track for a while.

“During the week of Thanksgiving, most people are not thinking about filing unemployment claims during that time, so we were expecting a drop,” she said. “I don’t think we were expecting it necessarily to be as low as it was.”

Pre-pandemic, the department saw about 2,000 to 2,500 unemployment claims per week. Last year, those numbers were significantly higher, nearing 3,000 claims. The decline hit this year.

Before Thanksgiving, the department was seeing 1,200 to 1,500 claims a week — already a historic low.

In Horry County, only 80 claims were filed, something Von Nessen said was lower than normal.

“During the height of 2020 shutdowns, it was multi-thousands of claims per week,” she said. “Now 80 is a wonderful number from the standpoint of economic recovery.”

Von Nessen said most industries in South Carolina​ have recovered from the pandemic. For those that struggled the most like leisure and hospitality, she said it’s slowly bouncing back as well.

“That industry, in particular, is the one that has the furthest to go to fully regain all of the jobs that it lost,” she said. “They still have about 8 to 10% of those jobs that have not yet come back, or they have not yet been able to fill.”

According to Von Nessen, it’s normal to see a significant increase in claims coming out of the Thanksgiving break due to delayed filing, but she said it’s nothing to panic about.

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