The state’s unemployment rate experienced a slight drop, as jobless figures in August showed an 11.5 percent unemployment rate compared to July’s figure of 11.7 percent. While a number of economists see the figure as a reason for slight optimism, Sam McClary of the South Carolina Employment Security Commission says indications are that the state may have not seen the worse just yet.
“I think its going to be a few years before we feel like it’s over. I still think we’ve got some rough months ahead of us. over the last three months we have lost people in the labor force because the unemployed have quit looking for work but eventually they’re going to come back in searching for jobs and that is going to push the unemployment rate up.”
McClary says South Carolina’s economy seems to lag behind the rest of the country by about six months. The national unemployment rate for August was 9.7 percent.
McClary says the latest state figures do not suggest any significant momentum in the near future for the state’s overall job market.”Our tourism season has been off about 10,000 jobs from what we normally get, manufacturing is likely to continue to decline, and the hiring in schools seems to be less than we normally have.”
McClary says with the arrival of fall, South Carolina usually experiences a significant drop off in the tourism industry as the weather changes and students who work in the hospitality industry return to school full time.
McClary says while there are no concrete figures he can point to, there are indications that people who are laid off are creating their own jobs like lawn care or house cleaning. Others are moonlighting in an effort to make ends meets.”A lot of people have tried to find innovative ways to bring income into the home. Some that are working are finding additional forms of income by taking on side jobs or trying to find things they can do to find a different income stream for the family.”
McClary says during this recession, there seems to be one field in which the job market is holding steady. “Health care seems to be somewhat recession resistant. That is the only major industry that has really not seen a downturn. Health care or anything related to serving an aging population is going to be a growing industry.”
McClary says he is keeping an eye on one particular figure that may indicate that their is light at the end of this recession tunnel as far as the job market is concerned. “We actually increased in our manufacturing hours from July to August from 41.4 to 43 hours. That’s a positive sign because manufacturers and employers in general will start adding hours and extending work weeks before adding people.”