Federal $300 a week unemployment benefit ends in South Carolina

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- This is the last week unemployed South Carolinians will receive an additional $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits.

Staffing agencies told 7News they have seen an increase in people looking for work since the Gov. McMaster announced South Carolina is opting out of the additional federal benefits.

On Wednesday, Jackie Wood sat in the waiting room at SC Works to make sure she’s taking the right steps to find a new job.

“I’ve just been laid off May 28, so this is going on like my fourth week of being unemployed,” Wood said.

She said she worked as an administrative assistant at the same place for 32 years. She was let go when the company was sold. Right now she’s receigin the maximum unemployment benefits for the state– $326 a week. That has also been bolstered by an additional $300 a week authorized by the American Rescue Plan. She said after taxes, her total unemployment aid comes to $519 a week. The $300 weekly benefit ends after this week, meaning at maximum, unemployed South Carolinians will receive $270 a week.

“I’m lucky because I do have a spouse, and he’s working full time,” Wood said. “I’m not sure if I wasn’t married, if I was single, how that would be.”

For restaurant owner Chris Yun, the pandemic has made a tight labor market even tighter.

“Hiring is definitely a pandemic in itself,” said Yun, who owns Green Fetish.

He said he’s not the only one having trouble.

“We’re definitely a short staff right now, as well as every other restaurant in the Upstate,” he said.

Local recruiting firm president Julie Brown said she’s never seen such a high demand for workers.

“There’s not an industry right now that’s not having a hard time finding…talented employees,” said Brown, who is the president of Godshall Recruiting.

She agress with Gov. Mcmaster’s assertion that the extra benefits incentivize some workers to stay home rather than return to work.

“We’re finding that the employees who are earning less than about 18 or 20 an hour seem to not have as much incentive to get back into the workforce,” she said.

She said some employers are raising wages as a result, but she still expects more people to begin looking for jobs as the extra unemployment benefits end.

The federal government is giving states the option of keeping the additional $300 a week benefits for those who are unemployed through September 6.

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