COLUMBIA (AP) - New unemployment claims in South Carolina have dropped for the third week in a row, marking the lowest number of weekly claims filed since the pandemic began.
The state Department of Employment and Workforce reported that about 8,900 people filed initial claims last week.
"We are strongly encouraged by this downward trend in initial claims and the performance of the economy," said Dan Ellzey, the agency's executive director, in a statement.
Unemployment remains high relative to this time last year, when South Carolina was averaging 2,548 new weekly claims in July 2019.
Since the state first shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak, about 707,000 people have filed jobless claims and the state has distributed nearly $3.7 billion in unemployment benefits, the agency said.
Also Thursday, health officials reported 1,295 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 44 confirmed deaths, bringing the total up to 96,132 cases and 1,863 deaths since the outbreak began.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases in the state did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 1,828.14 new cases per day on July 22 to 1,375.14 new cases per day on Aug. 5. South Carolina remains in the top 10 states for total number of daily new cases and deaths in the last 14 days.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some - especially older adults and people with existing health problems - it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
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