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North Myrtle Beach on May 3, 2020. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

The number of Horry County residents filing unemployment claims continues to fall, but thousands of locals are still seeking benefits. 

For the week ending May 2, 4,318 county residents filed unemployment claims, according to the latest data from the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. That was the second-highest total among the state’s 46 counties. Greenville County (4,318 claims) led the state.

More than 50,000 claims have been filed by county residents since state and local officials began closing businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, state records show.

The weekly total has started to decline, though it’s still a staggering increase from the first week of March, when just 99 people filed claims for unemployment benefits. The next week, 112 did. Then the total jumped to 5,258 — the most of any county in South Carolina. For three weeks, Horry County led the state in the number of claims filed. The county's peak in a single week was 10,098 claims. 

This week, the number of claims filed statewide dropped by more than 18,000 to 46,747.

“Our agency is encouraged to report the third straight weekly decline in the number of unemployment insurance (UI) initial claims,” said Dan Ellzey, executive director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, in a news release. “We understand, however, that this good news is tempered by the record high number of claims overall. During the heart of the 2008-2009 Great Recession, laid-off employees were filing an average of 10,000 new claims per week. While the number of new claims we reported today is a great improvement over the numbers three weeks ago, it is still well over four times higher than the number of initial weekly claims being filed during the Great Recession.”

In an effort to slow the spread COVID-19, there have been government bans on short-term rentals and sit-down dining, along with the forced closure of many “non-essential” businesses and a stay-at-home order. Schools will be closed for the remainder of the academic year.

Although state and local officials have begun relaxing some COVID-19 restrictions, leaders have emphasized a gradual, phased approach.

Since the pandemic began, 50,888 unemployment claims have been filed by Horry County residents, according to state records.

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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