South Dakota prepares for federal COVID benefits to end

Like other states across the nation, South Dakota is preparing for federal unemployment benefits to come to an end.
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Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 4:33 PM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Unemployment claims have continued to trend downward in South Dakota after hitting a peak of 8,000 during the height of the pandemic. Despite never having a government mandated shutdown, South Dakota’s Department of Labor was rocked with unemployment claims and is still continuing to process them. However, this week the $600 pandemic unemployment compensation is set to expire, and unemployment recipients will be required to show they are actively searching for work.

”Since March, we have paid out over $252 million in state and federal benefits. that just illustrates the amount of work and the number of cases people in the department has processed. In the last five years total, we paid $183 million.” Secretary of Labor and Regulation Marcia Hultman said.

However, those benefits are in limbo as the United States Congress debates what relief Americans will get, or not get, next.

”Like much of the public, I am closely watching what Congress is debating and what they may do next, there are a lot of things on the table.”

If federal benefits are not replenished, then hundreds of South Dakota businesses will be looking for new workers to hit the job market.

”Post-COVID, we probably ran 25-30 openings on a regular basis. Now, we have over 40 that have scheduled hours.” said Avera Health Human Resources Officer Tracy Olson.

Avera says that in a tight job market, its looking for new ways to bring workers on.

”We offer our employees the opportunity for referral bonuses, new candidates sign-on bonuses, as well as right now a new competitive starting rate that was just implemented this week.”

Unemployment recipients in South Dakota will still be eligible to receive state benefits, up to $428 a week, even if the federal government does not end up continuing weekly benefits under the CARES Act.

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