S.D. unemployment numbers drop; new stimulus package in the works

Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 10:30 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Coronavirus is having a major impact on economies across the country, and even leaving some people without a job.

Since March 16th, over $250 million has been given to unemployed South Dakotans.

Unemployment claims in the state are decreasing, but policymakers in Washington are still working to find solutions for those who need extra assistance.

At a press conference in Mitchell on Thursday, Senator John Thune shared his thoughts surrounding the current status of unemployment in America, including the potential for more financial support from the federal level.

Thune says unemployment insurance is currently high, which makes him worry that people are unmotivated to return to work.

Thune said, “In South Dakota, the average unemployment benefit right now is the annualized equivalent of about $48,000 a year, so you can about imagine there are a lot of people who are saying ‘If I can stay home as long as this is available I’m not going to come back to work.’ That’s something that we need to address.”

Thune adds that Congress is currently working on finding a balance.

“Put it at a level, I mean we need to protect people and have a safety net for those who need it, but also make sure that we are not providing a disincentive for people going back to work. We want to get people back into the workforce,” Thune said.

In South Dakota, the $600 weekly allowance coming from the federal level ended in July, and the Department of Labor says unemployment claims are down compared to when the pandemic first hit.

South Dakota Department of Labor Secretary Marcia Hultman said, “We’ve seen our initial claims drop back down to 775ish for a week, so that’s higher than what we would normally see in August but it’s much, much, much lower than what we were seeing in March.”

No matter how much federal or state funds go towards unemployment, not everybody is guaranteed the same support.

“It’s all individually based, so each person’s claims might be different than their neighbors or their best friends, or even a coworker so we do have to look at the facts specific to each claim,” said Hultman.

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