Unemployment claims skyrocket in South Dakota

Coronavirus

People in South Dakota, who have lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, continue to file for unemployment benefits, but a lot of people have yet to see a single check.

Tuesday, South Dakota’s Secretary of Labor talked about some of the issues they’re having processing some of those claims.

The number of people who have applied for unemployment insurance during these unprecedented times in South Dakota is staggering.

“I’m no longer asking individuals to be patient with us, because I understand patience is wearing thin and people are really anxious to begin receiving these benefits,” Secretary of Labor Marcia Hultman said.

The state says it has processed and paid out nearly three-quarters of the claims; last week alone it paid out nearly $11 million in state unemployment benefits and an additional $9 million in federal benefits, but there have been issues with some of the claims.

“The issues that we are seeing with these claims are things like questions about separation from the last employer, did you quit, did you leave, were you fired were you laid off was it COVID-related,” Hultman said.

Typically she says claims can be processed in two weeks, but those with issues might take up to four weeks.

The Department of Labor has been busy training several employees, who don’t normally handle claims, to try and keep up with the workload.

On the business side, the Governor says the state has provided millions of dollars in loans so far through the state’s economic development assistance program that was passed by the legislature this year.

“We’ve done about a little less than 100 loans so far, they add up to $5 million and that’s roughly $3 million that have already gone out the door to help these small businesses across the state of South Dakota,” Governor Kristi Noem said.

The state says the PUA, pandemic unemployment assistance program, which is for independent contractors and small business owners, is now up and running.

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