Unemployment claims in South Dakota have dropped to pre-pandemic levels according to the latest report from the Department of Labor and Regulation.

First-time unemployment claims fell to 248 for the week ending March 6. That is a drop of 193 from last week's report of 441 and is the lowest number of claims in several months.

Prior to the pandemic, South Dakota would process between 200 and 300 weekly initial claims. Initial claims hit a record high as the pandemic shutdowns began in the state, spiking to several thousand in March 2020. After that initial spike, weekly claims stabilized and have been hovering around 400 to 800 for much of the past year.

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Continued claims, or the number of unemployed workers who are eligible for and continue to receive benefits after their initial claim, were also down last week. The Department of Labor reports that 5,707 unemployed workers received a continued claim for the week ending Feb 27. That is down 259 from the prior week's report of 5,966.

The state's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund balance was $152.6 million as of March 7. South Dakota has paid out around $353.6 million in total benefits since March 16, 2020.

The number of first-time claims fell nationwide as states begin to relax restrictions on 'non-essential' businesses but they remain around four times higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Fox Business reports that 712,000 Americans lost their job in the week ending March 6, down 42,000 from last week's total of 754,000. This is the lowest number since the first week of November.

Continued claims dropped 193,000 from the previous week, coming in at 4.14 million.

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