South Dakota's unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the pandemic began. This comes at a time when a lot of states are struggling with climbing unemployment rates due to the tightening up of restrictions on businesses.

The unemployment rate for December 2020 fell to 3%, tying Nebraska for the lowest rate in the country. Dakota News Now reports the rate was 3.3% in February 2020, one month before the coronavirus outbreak forced businesses to close.

First-time unemployment claims were down for the week ending January 23. 472 South Dakotans lost their job according to the latest report from the Department of Labor and Regulation. That's down 278 claims from the last week's total of 750.

Continued claims also dropped considerably for the week ending January 16. 4,957 workers were still eligible for benefits after filing their initial claim. Last week 5,675 workers filed a claim.

The state paid out $1.2 million in benefits along with $1.1 million in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. A total of $335 million has been paid out by the state since March 16. 2020.

Nationwide, another 847,000 Americans lost their job and filed a first-time jobless claim for the week ending Jan. 23. That is lower than the 875,000 that analysts were expecting, but still about four times higher than pre-pandemic levels, according to Fox Business.  

4.77 million Americans were eligible for continued unemployment claims, down about 203,000 from the last report. About 18.28 million Americans were receiving some kind of jobless benefit through Jan. 9. That's up 2.29 million from the previous week, Fox Business reports.

Around 70 million Americans have filed a jobless claim since last March or about 40% of the country's workforce.

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