South Carolina Surpasses 600,000 Unemployment Claims Since Pandemic Began

Staff Report

Friday, June 19th, 2020

Initial Claims: For claim week ending June 13, 2020, the number of South Carolinians who filed their initial claim for unemployment insurance benefits is 19,366, a decrease of 3,368 initial claims from the week prior. This brings the initial claims total to 601,631 received since mid-March.

“With the latest claim week, the state’s total number of initial claims has now reached more than 600,000. This is a significant milestone and true indicator of the widespread effects of COVID-19 on our state, workforce and economy,” said Dan Ellzey, Executive Director, S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.

“This represents a significant number of people who have lost their jobs. And, it explains the magnitude of the money that has been paid out in unemployment benefits. As of June 16, that number is $2.2 billion paid to unemployed South Carolinians. On a positive note, our agency is hearing from numerous businesses who are actively looking for employees and industries who are busily ramping up to respond to consumer and market demands,” continued Ellzey.

“I encourage individuals who are out of a job to take advantage of the tools on the SC Works Online Services website,, and monitor our social media which will be highlighting hot jobs around the state each week. Jobseekers can also call an SC Works Center in their area. Staff work daily, both virtually and by phone, connecting people with employers who are eagerly looking for workers. I would also encourage employers to utilize the job matching service that we provide through our online database that is free to employers and job seekers,” concluded Ellzey.

Agency Responsiveness:

  • From March 15, 2020 to June 16, 2020, the agency has paid more than $2.2 billion in a combination of South Carolina UI benefits, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (for the self-employed and others), the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation ($600 per week) program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (extension of benefits for 13 weeks) program.

  • DEW continues to operate on an extended schedule this week. Monday and Tuesday are our highest call volume days in our call center. Wednesday through Saturday are our lower call volume days. If you need assistance we encourage you to call on an off peak day to avoid longer wait times.