Fewer South Dakota workers filed an initial unemployment claim last week according to the latest report from the Department of Labor and Regulation.

439 initial weekly claims were processed by the state in the week ending February 20. That's down 169 claims from last week's total of 608.

Before March of 2020, the state would typically process between 200 to 300 initial claims. While the current number is historically high for the state, it's much lower than the thousands who were unemployed pandemic-related layoffs began last March.

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Continued claims were down slightly for the week ending Feb. 13. 5,453 workers were eligible for and receiving benefits after their initial claim. That's 208 fewer claims than last week's total of 5,661.

The state paid out $1.4 million in claims last week. The total benefits paid since March 16, 2020, is approximately $347 million.

Nationally, initial claims came in lower than analysts expected. Fox Business reports that 730,000 Americans lost their jobs last week. Analysts were expecting 838,000 claims.

4.41 million Americans were eligible for and receiving continued unemployment benefits, a decline of 101,000 from the previous week.

Fox Business reports that 19 million Americans were collecting jobless benefits for the week ending Feb. 6, up 701,000 from the prior week.

There are about 10 million fewer jobs now than in February 2020.

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