PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — For the first time since the week ending March 14, initial, or new, unemployment claims in South Dakota fell below 1,000.

During the week of  May 31 through June 6, a total of  817 initial weekly claims for state unemployment benefits were processed by the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation. This is a decrease of  681 claims from the prior week’s total of  1,498, the DLR said in a news release.

There were 190 new unemployment claims for the week ending March 14 when the coronavirus pandemic had just started in the state. The next week claims jumped to 1,761 and 6,645 for the week ending March 28, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The high was 8,182 for the week ending April 4.

A total of $4.9 million was paid out for the week of May 31 through June 6 in state benefits, in addition to $13.1 million paid out in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), $894,000 in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and $46,000 in Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) benefits. The Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund balance June 7 was $98.8 million.   

The latest number of continued claims is 19,629 for the week ending May 23. This indicates the number of unemployed workers eligible for and receiving benefits after their initial claim.    

“Over 19,000 job openings are currently listed in our SDWORKS jobs database, back to pre-pandemic levels,” State Labor and Regulation Secretary Marcia Hultman said in the DLR news release. “If you’re unsure if you’ll be recalled back to work, now is the perfect opportunity to consider a new career. We have many education and training opportunities to get you started.”