Unemployment claims have dropped in the latest report from the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation.

The report states that 602 South Dakotans filed an initial claim for the week ending December 26, 2020, a decrease of 168 from last week's report.

Continued claims were also down. The report shows that 3,609 South Dakotans were still receiving benefits for the week ending December 19. That's a decrease of 616 from the prior week. Continued claims represent the number of unemployed workers who are eligible for and receiving benefits after their initial claim.

Last week, South Dakotans received $1.4 million in state and federal pandemic relief benefits. Since March 16, a total of $326.1 million has been paid out in state and federal relief funds.

Nationally, first-time jobless claims came in much lower than analysts had expected even as COVID-19 lockdowns in many states continue to intensify.

Fox Business reports that 787,000 workers filed an initial claim, fewer than the 833,000 that was expected and the lowest total in a month.

5.219 million workers filed a continued claim. Analysts were expecting 5.322 million.

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