South Dakota's initial unemployment claims remain within pre-pandemic levels according to the latest report from the Department of Labor and Regulation.

Total initial weekly unemployment claims came in at 266 for the week ending May 8. That's a slight increase of only two from last week's revised total of 264.

Before pandemic-related shutdowns last year forced businesses to lay off thousands of workers, the typical average in South Dakota was between 200 to 300 weekly claims.

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Continued unemployment claims saw a healthy drop of 626, coming in at 2,576 for the week ending May 1. Last week's revised total was 3,202. This number represents the unemployed workers who are eligible for and continue to receive benefits after their initial claim.

South Dakota paid out $453,000 in state benefits and $1.29 million through federal CARES Act assistance programs. South Dakota has paid out $376.5 million in combined state and federal benefits since March 16, 2020.

The South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation announced this week that the state will end its participation in the three CARES Act unemployment programs, including $300 weekly payments for claimants. These programs will end on June 26, 2021. South Dakota will continue to pay state benefits which are capped at $428 per week.

Nationally, Fox Business reports that initial unemployment claims fell again to a new pandemic low of 473,000. That's 25,000 fewer than last week's revised total of 498,000. However, this number remains about two times higher than the pre-pandemic average. Continued claims rose slightly to 3.66 million.

As businesses around the country continue to return to normal operations, they are having a hard time finding people who want to come back to work. According to the U.S. Labor Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, there are a record 8.1 million job openings in the US.

The South Dakota Department of Labor reports there are 23,000 job openings in the state with many business owners saying they can't find enough people to work.

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