South Dakota's first-time unemployment claims continue to decline according to the latest report from the Department of Labor and Regulation.

For the week ending Feb 27, 372 South Dakotan's filed an initial weekly claim for state unemployment benefits. That's a substantial decrease of 124 claims from last week's total of 496. Initial claims in the state before the pandemic typically averaged between 200 to 300.

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While the news is good with first-time claims, continued claims saw a slight increase for the week ending Feb 20. The latest report shows 6,033 continued claims were filed. That's up 534 from the last report's total of 5,499. Continued claims represent the number of unemployed workers eligible for and receiving benefits after their initial claim.

The state paid out $1.3 million in unemployment benefits last week. The Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund balance was $153.7 million on Feb. 28. South Dakota has paid around $350.3 million in benefits since March 16, 2020.

Nationally, first-time unemployment claims remain about four times higher than pre-pandemic levels. Fox Business reports another 745,000 Americans lost their jobs last week. Continued claims fell by 124,000 from last week, coming in at 4.29 million.

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