UNION — A combination of seasonal hiring by local retailers and hiring by manufacturers in neighboring counties in October helped drive Union County’s unemployment to its lowest level this year.
In a report issued Monday, the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce announced that South Carolina’s unemployment rate was 8.6 percent in October, down from 9.1 percent in September. October was the second month in a row the state’s unemployment rate has declined. South Carolina’s unemployment rate declined eight months in a row until May when it began rising, peaking at 9.6 percent in July and August before decreasing in September and continuing to do so in October.
The report also stated that, since October 2011, South Carolina’s unemployment rate has declined 1.4 percent.
In addition to the continuing decline in the unemployment rate, the number of people employed in South Carolina also continued to increase. After declining for six straight months, the number of people employed in the state increased from 1,926,595 in August to 1,940,026 in September, a gain of 13,329. In October, there were 1,954,081 people employed in South Carolina, a gain of 14,705.
The state’s labor force also continued to grow in size. Over the past three months the state’s labor force has increased from 2,131,688 in August to 2,134,279 in September to 2,137,825 in October.
Nationally, the unemployment rate rose slightly from 7.8 percent in September to 7.9 percent in October. The report attributed this to the addition of 578,000 people to the labor force. Of those, approximately 410,000 found work while 170,000 began searching but were unable to find jobs.
The report stated that 17 of South Carolina’s 46 counties saw their unemployment rate fall in October while the rates in 18 were unchanged from the previous month and 11 had increases.
Union County was one of the counties that saw its unemployment rate decline in October. It was the third month in a row that the county’s unemployment rate decreased.
The county’s unemployment rate reached a post-holiday season high of 15.3 percent at the beginning of the year before beginning to decline in February and continuing to do so through April when it reached 13.5 percent. It then began to climb, reaching 14.8 percent in July before declining to 14.6 percent in August and then dropping to 13 percent in September. The decline continued in October with the county’s unemployment rate reaching 12.8 percent.
As the unemployment rate in the county decreased, the number of people with jobs increased, going from 9,694 in August to 9,934 in September and 9,595 in October.
Roy Lowe, center manager for the SCWorks Union office, said the decline in the county’s unemployment rate is probably due to a combination of hiring by local retailers gearing up for the holiday shopping season and increased hiring by manufacturers in neighboring counties, especially Spartanburg County.
“We’ve seen no major industry hires here, so I would attribute it to seasonal hiring as well as hiring in other counties,” Lowe said. “Seasonal hiring usually takes place beginning in October and running through the end of the year. Retailers need more help during the holidays than normally. They will continue hiring until the main holiday rush is over, usually in mid-December leading up to Christmas.”
Lowe said that while he has no statistical data to confirm it, he believes manufacturers located in other counties that began hiring recently may also play a role in the decline of the county’s unemployment rate. He said he expects the hiring by manufacturers to continue and possibly even increase now that the elections are over.
“We seen some manufacturing hiring in some other counties, we’ve especially seen some manufacturing hiring in Spartanburg,” Lowe said. “Now that the election is over and they’re getting a picture of the direction things are going in they are reassessing their needs and making hiring decisions. That’s normally what happens after an election, businesses know what to expect and they start hiring.”
In addition to being one of 17 counties to see their unemployment rate drop in October, the report stated Union County is one of three counties to experience the largest decline in unemployment during the year. It stated that Union County’s unemployment rate dropped 3.6 percent while Marlboro and York counties’ unemployment rates fell by more than 3 percent as well. The report attributed this to the combination of people find jobs and people leaving the workforce.
Still sixth in unemployment
Despite the decreases, Union County still has the sixth-highest unemployment rate in South Carolina. The counties with unemployment rates higher than Union County’s in October were Barnwell (13.2 percent), Bamberg (13.3 percent), Marlboro (14.2 percent), Marion (16 percent), and Allendale (6.6 percent).
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.