More than 31,000 South Carolinians have filed for unemployment benefits

More than 31,000 South Carolinians have filed for unemployment benefits

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - New numbers from the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) show more than 31,000 people across the state filed for unemployment benefits last week.

That’s a 1,600% increase from the previous week’s count of close to 2,000 claims.

DEW says it’s in uncharted territory right now.

“Record-level claim levels and record-level claim volumes and record-level calls,” DEW Interim Chief Administration Officer, Jamie Suber, said. “We’ve never experienced this.”

Horry County saw the most unemployment claims at more than 5,000, followed by Charleston, Greenville and then Richland County, which had 2,500 claims.

But many people say they still haven’t been able to get through to DEW to file a claim.

“You can’t call because they don’t even give you a hold time,” Rosa Hall, a Columbia resident, said. “They’re like we’re so busy, we can’t take your call, so if you don’t make it at just the right time, you’re waiting days just to try to figure things out.”

DEW says it’s working closely with its computer vendor to make sure the system can continue to handle the large volume of claims being filed.

“Please be patient with us. We’re here to help,” Suber said. “Our staff is committed to providing support for individuals that are trying to get assistance.”

Right now, DEW says the payout period is between seven to 14 days, but that depends on how long it takes an employer to verify someone’s employment prior to the layoff.

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Officials say they will not be able to answer any questions about how the Stimulus Bill will affect benefits until after they receive guidance from the Department of Labor.

DEW officials say they aren’t extending phone line hours to keep up with all of the calls, but they are pulling more staff members into customer care roles.

They say more than 50% of the calls they are receiving could be answered by going to the COVID-19 resource hub on their website. They ask people go there first in order to bring wait times down. Click or tap here to access it.

This week, DEW also dedicated a new number specifically for employers. That number is (803) 737-2532. The department has also added some more FAQs, and listed employers looking for hire right now. Find that list by clicking or tapping here.

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