S.F. financial director watches the unemployment numbers

KELOLAND.com Original
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As a person who works with lots of numbers, Shawn Pritchett pays attention to the latest unemployment figures.

But the financial director for the city of Sioux Falls said there are two pieces of unemployment figures he pays the most attention to because of their timeliness and comprehensiveness.

Pritchett said continued unemployment claims show how many individuals are still on unemployment beyond those who file for the first time, which are included in initial claim numbers.

The South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation said Thursday that continued claims decreased for the week ending June 6, the most recent number available.

The latest number of continued state claims is 18,649 for the week ending June 6, a decrease of 6,537 from the pandemic high of 25,186 for the week ending May 9, the state DOLR said.

Pritchett said those numbers are good indicators of the severity of ongoing claims.

He also pays close attention to the insured unemployment rate.

The rate indicates how many people who are eligible for unemployment are unemployed. Not every worker in the state is eligible for unemployment. The pandemic has caused some expansion of eligibility.

South Dakota’s most recent insured unemployment rate is 4.4%, Pritchett said.

“You see that trending down,” Pritchett said.

City of Sioux Falls chart on insured unemployment rates and continued claims. Insured unemployment rate is for workers eligible for unemployment insurance in the state.

The rate had been around 6% early in the pandemic but has been hovering around that 4% recently, he said.

The insured unemployment rate “is a very good indicator of what’s happening in the economy,” Pritchett said during a June 23 city informational meeting.

South Dakota’s insured unemployment rate is the lowest in the nation, Pritchett said during that meeting.

The latest unemployment rate for the U.S. is 14% and 11% for South Dakota and Sioux Falls. Pritchett said the rate for South Dakota and Sioux Falls may not be the most accurate because the economies of states are not recovering at the same pace.

Pritchett said during the June 23 meeting that unemployment rates across the U.S. will fluctuate as state re-open during the pandemic. Rates may go down and then up again where business closures lasted longer and had a more severe impact, he said.

The fluctuations will be less in South Dakota because of the timing of restrictions and re-opening and fewer overall business closures, Pritchett said.

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