South Carolina’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 9.4 percent in June from 9.1 percent in May. This is the second consecutive rise in the rate, but is well below the June 2011 rate of 10.5 percent. The overall labor force moved downward slightly by 2,773 people. University of South Carolina Research Economist Dr. Joseph Von Nessen says the state has experienced a rise in jobs since the recovery began in 2010, but the economy is still sluggish. Von Nessen says the key factor is the number of people who elect to rejoin the workforce which increases the number of persons actively seeking employment. Von Nessen says presently the number of new jobs being created in the state is not aggressively outpacing the growing numbers of those actively searching for jobs. “When the labor force rises, if it increases and no additional people are hired, now we’re looking at the same pool of employed workers, but we’re dividing by a larger labor force. So more people coming in if they’re not being employed, that group that is employed makes up a smaller percentage of the overall labor force and so the employment rate would then end to go up.”
Overall non-farm payroll jobs increased by 1,800 from May to June , with a strong seasonal rise in Leisure and Hospitality however A large summer drop in state and local education gave Government employment a decline of 4,900 from May to June 2012. Von Nessen says those figures are not surprising given recent historical trends. Von Nessen says job creation must move at a faster pace if a significant dent is to be made in the jobless rate. “When that job growth is fairly aggressive that’s when you see real declines in the unemployment rate and that is really what we’re not seeing right now. Our increases in employment have been so slow at this point that there really not able to or are barely able to keep up with the changes in the labor force.”
Von Nessen says the state has been aggressive in recruiting new industry to the state and the efforts by state political and business leaders have been paying dividends. However, going forward Von Nessen says state government especially has to be just as bullish in funding programs that will properly educate and train the workforce throughout the state so persons will be able to take hold of new employment opportunities especially in hi-tech industries. “There is a huge discrepancy between the metropolitan areas vs. the more rural areas of the state where the unemployment rates are in excess of 15 to 16 percent; and one of the problems is that we need to make sure to make South Carolina more attractive as businesses come here that we have a workforce ready to go on day one.”
With acquisition of Boeing and other new industries, Von Nessen says the Charleston area has become the epicenter of South Carolina’s economic recovery and resurgence. “If you look at the state of South Carolina as a whole, Charleston has been the biggest hot spot for growth since the recovery began in 2010; indeed Charleston is atop 15 city in the country and is really a model for post-recession economic growth.
Von Nessen says with the recent news that the Obama Administration is speeding up the approval process for deepening the Charleston Harbor, the economy not only of Charleston but the entire state of South Carolina can look forward to significant growth in the not too distant future.