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Federal pandemic unemployment benefits to end in South Carolina in one week

It comes months ahead of the September expiration date, as the state seeks to fill vacant job openings, but advocates say it could lead to more harm than good.

SUMTER, S.C. — Federal pandemic unemployment programs made to help struggling Americans who are out of work will soon end in South Carolina.

The state joins over 20 others to end the federal funds early with the governor citing a “labor shortage” as cause for the move.

While unemployment has dropped statewide, many businesses are struggling to attract workers, with some offering incentive packages and higher wages to bring in talent.

However, advocates for underserved South Carolinians say the decision to end benefits ahead of the September cut off could lead to more harm than good.

RELATED: SC rent, utility program sees thousands of applicants; millions in funds still available

“It’s not simply let’s look at how many jobs that are available and divide those into the number of people who are on unemployment,” SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Director Sue Berkowitz said. “It really is case by case.”

Her center helps those with social and economic challenges.

“I think there’s other issues, such as skill level… whether or not there’s accessible child care… somebody may have been, you know, had COVID and had residual effects,” Berkowitz said, “and remember at the same time the CDC eviction moratorium is going to lift …and we’re going to see those same folks possibly being at risk of losing their place to live… I think it’s going to be rough July 1.”

Federal unemployment benefits end next Saturday in South Carolina. Four days later, on June 30, the CDC’s eviction moratorium will drop.

RELATED: Millions fear eviction as US housing crisis worsens

It comes as more than 440,000 out-of-work adults nationwide lose additional benefits this weekend due to other state’s cutting off aid, according to CBS News.

The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) is encouraging those at risk of losing benefits to visit one of their work centers to try to find a job.

“We do hiring events… individualized services one-on-one, resume assistance. We do intensive job searching,” Raiford Hinton, Jr., Interim Regional Manager for the Santee Lynches Region of SCDEW said.

He said the flow of clients has been “pretty consistent.” Those interested in receiving services can visit one of their centers at SCWorks.org.