South Carolina in September had one of the nation’s healthiest drops in unemployment. And according to labor statisticians at the state Department of Employment and Workforce, the state has not experienced this percentage drop since the 1980s.
“That is a big deal for South Carolina,” says Steve McClaughlin of DEW.
But today, Gov. Nikki Haley has not been making a big deal of the improvement.
Haley’s spokesman Rob Godfrey told South Carolina Radio Network: “While we welcome this news, it’s important to remember that any changes in the unemployment rate from one month to the next don’t mean all that much. What matters is looking at the trend over a longer period of time. We’re pleased that from the day we took office until now, the unemployment rate has dropped from 10.6 percent to 9.1 percent. But there’s no doubt we still have a long ways to go to create an economy in which everyone in South Carolina who wants a job has a job. We will continue to work hard every day to accomplish that goal.”
Instead, Gov. Haley is questioning the national numbers, as many of her fellow Republicans are, in the heat of the election. We asked her about that Wednesday, in anticipation of the state’s numbers improving.
AUDIO: Haley questions the numbers (1:19)
Ashley Byrd: Who really gets the credit for the unemployment rate going down in a state…is it the governor, is it the president? And who do you blame when it goes up?
Gov. Haley: “I will tell you that is a question that I can’t answer for you because when I look at the unemployment rate —you’ll see it in every office within the wing of the Statehouse because I want all of my team members to know what the unemployment rate is—what has frustrated me is how is it possible for the unemployment rate to drop so much nationally a month before the election? That makes me lose faith in everything that we have. And so the key is, are we putting people back to work? Do we rely on an unemployment number or do we just look at the families that are still out there looking?
The answer, according to labor statistics, is yes, people are gradually going back to work in South Carolina and the state is showing manufacturing strength over time, a welcome rebound from lost textile jobs. Since September of 2011, the number of jobs was up about 1.6 percent, better than the national percentage for the same period.