South Dakota unemployment claims spike by thousands in wake of coronavirus

(Cropped Photo: MGN Photo - Julie Chasen / MGN)(License Link)
(Cropped Photo: MGN Photo - Julie Chasen / MGN)(License Link)(KWQC)
Published: Apr. 2, 2020 at 8:46 AM CDT
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Unemployment claims rose dramatically in South Dakota as the state deals with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were 6,645 initial claims for unemployment benefits last week, according to the South Dakota Department of Regulation Public Affairs Director Dawn Dovre.

It's an increase of nearly 5,000 from the previous week's total of 1,761. That number was already a major increase from the week before, which saw only 190 claims - close to the recent average for the state.

The last two weeks' unemployment claims amount to 1.7% of South Dakota's total labor force of roughly 467,000, according to the


COVID-19 shutters economy nationwide

The coronavirus outbreak has shut down many parts of the economy, and many businesses have already temporarily closed their doors as part of the social distancing effort to slow the spread of the disease.

Nationwide, over

applied for unemployment benefits last week - doubling a record high that had been set just one week earlier.

How to apply for unemployment assistance in South Dakota

The Department of Labor is making changes to its system due to the significant increase in unemployment requests, SiouxFalls.Business

. A new “last name” filing system was implemented March 30. Based on the first letter of their last name, claimants should file:

* A-F on Monday

* G-N on Tuesday

* O-Z on Wednesday

* If you missed your day, you can file on Thursday or Friday.

State Labor and Regulation Secretary Marcia Hultman suggested a number of tips to make the unemployment assistance application process go more smoothly.

"File online at," Hultman said, rather than by phone. "Write down your username and password. Read the packet of information you get in the mail. Complete your weekly request for payment. And please, be patient.”



Applicants can also call the Department of Labor by phone at 605-626-3179, though Hultman said wait times may exceed an hour.

The state has hired an additional 25 people to help with unemployment requests.


The story previously stated last week's numbers as 1,761, based on a statement from the Department of Labor. The department later sent out updated numbers with the correction.