South Carolina unemployment insurance claims increase approximately 1600% for instate workers

South Carolina News

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD/WSPA) – South Carolina initial unemployment insurance claims increased roughly 1600% for instate workers this past week, according to the SC Department of Employment and Workforce.

The advance numbers for the week ending March 21 totaled 31,054, as opposed to the previous week’s count of 1,996. This means 31,054 people who live and work in the state filed an initial claim last week.

Additionally, advance figures show there were 772 initial interstate claims filed. Those 772 people live in South Carolina but filed for employment insurance against another state. That increase represented an approximately 800% increase over the previous week’s total of 97.

Lowcountry breakdown:

  • Charleston County: 4,183 claims
  • Berkeley County: 1,321 claims
  • Dorchester County: 949 claims
  • Colleton County: 155 claims
  • Georgetown County: 311 claims

The unemployment claims process is completed online and can be found here.

Meanwhile, nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week amid a widespread economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The jobs most impacted by the closures are those in hospitality.

Hospitality jobs include restaurant, hotel, and cruise line workers.

Many hospitality jobs also rely heavily on tips.

Professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management at College of Charleston Dr. Wayne Smith said tourism is an 8 billion dollar industry in charleston. The greater Charleston area is expected to lose half a billion dollars in the next four weeks.

“You’re taking the two busiest months of the year. Imagine any business if you took their two busiest months of the year and took them away how well will the businesses survive,” asked Smith.

There are currently 50,000 people employed in hospitality tourism in the charleston area. 36,000 of which are employed in the restaurant industry in the tri-county area alone. Hotel occupancy is down to 29 percent compared to 84 percent this time last year.

“Before to hire people it was really difficult, now is it going to be even more difficult to hire post-event,” said Smith.

Michael Dulac worked as a bar back at Rooftop before being let go two weeks ago. Since he has been unable to find any other work.

“There are hundreds and thousands of people applying to the same jobs so it’s very competitive out there and with the coronavirus now it makes it even harder because a lot of employees are working from home so they’re not doing interviews and stuff like that,” said Dulac.

Dulac says he has had to suspend his student loan and car payments.

“So I live with my girlfriend, but right now I think we did the math and it’s going to be about a month, a month and a half maybe max until I have to reach out to my family to see if anyone can help me without work,” said Dulac.

Prices are not expected to increase when things return to normal. Experts say businesses are likely to offer package deals to attract more tourism.

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