South Dakota's first-time unemployment claims have fallen to within pre-pandemic levels and are the lowest since COVID-19 layoffs began in March, according to the latest jobs report released by the Department of Labor.

The state received 233 first-time unemployment claims for the week ending September 26. That's 318 fewer claims than the prior week's total of 551, Dakota News Now reports.

In a typical pre-pandemic environment, the state would process between 200 to 300 weekly claims. At the peak of the pandemic layoffs in April, the Department of Labor received over 8,000 initial claims per week.

Continued claims dropped too for the week ending September 19. 5,987 unemployed workers were still eligible for and receiving benefits, down 963 from last week's total.

Dakota News Now reports the South Dakota Department of Labor paid a total of $1.2 million in state benefits.

Nationwide, the economy shed another 837,000 jobs, a slight decline from last week, but still historically high. The number of people receiving continued unemployment benefits fell by 980,000 to 11.7 million.

Fox Business reports that Disney has laid off 28,000 workers at its two U.S. theme parks. United and American Airlines have furloughed 32,000 employees on Wednesday after federal COVID aid expired. Several other large companies are warning of more layoffs as well.

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