ByPatrick Phillips | April 16, 2020 at 8:44 AM EDT - Updated April 16 at 8:58 AM
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce says 87,686 South Carolinians filed claims for unemployment in the week ending Saturday.
The agency has processed 268,614 claims in the four weeks since the pandemic began, spokesperson Heather Biance said. That represents a 4,293.09% increase from the claim week ending March 14.
The agency has paid out $114 million in FPUC/CARES Act benefits and regular south Carolina unemployment benefits between Sunday and Tuesday of this week alone, Biance said. That figure does not include additional funds for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance have reached the state.
SCDEW says it increased its call center staff from 46 customer service representative to 292 with more staff being trained and added to the phones each day. They hope to bring the total to more than 500 representatives by the end of next week. While call center hours for incoming calls – 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday – have not changed, staff are working extended hours each week day and through weekends making outbound calls to people captured in the queue and those whose claims require a follow-up from a claims specialist.
The agency has also added a chatbot option to its website to help answer unemployment and COVID-related questions.
The news comes as the federal government released nationwide figures showing 5.2 million more Americans have sought jobless aid in the last week as the number of laid-off people since the novel coronavirus struck keeps mounting.
Roughly 22 million have sought jobless benefits in the past month, which is easily the worst stretch of U.S. job losses on record.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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