UNION COUNTY — A month after it fell below 10 percent for the first time in years Union County’s unemployment rate continued to decline in December.
In its December report on the state of employment in South Carolina, the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce reported that Union County’s unemployment rate fell to 9.4 percent in November. The November rate was the first time in years that Union County’s unemployment was less than 10 percent.
That decline continued in December according to SCDEW which reported in January that the county’s unemployment rate stood at 9.1 percent. This was not only lower than the November rate, but also significantly lower than the December 2012 rate of 13.4 percent.
The continued decline also means that Union County had the 12th highest unemployment rate in South Carolina in December, down from November when it had the 11th highest. Prior to November, Union County’s unemployment rate was among the 10 highest in the state and, at times, had been among the five highest.
When the November unemployment rate was announced, local officials attributed the decline to an improving economy and job growth within Union County and in surrounding counties. That job growth included 730 new jobs in Union County and hundreds more in the region.
In response to the December unemployment rate, Union County Development Board Chairman Joe Nichols said it was also due to the continued improvement in the economy along with hiring by existing and new industries.
Development Board Executive Director Andrena Powell-Baker also welcomed the news of the continued decline in the unemployment rate.
“This is very exciting news for Union County and our citizens,” Powell-Baker said “Across the state of South Carolina, existing industry created the lion’s share of new jobs and capital investment in 2013 and in previous years, so, I have no doubt that our local industries and businesses adding employees is the primary contributor to this decline.
“We should be thankful that they are showing confidence in the economy and in doing business in Union County,” she said. “We will continue to support their expansion and business opportunities in every way that we possibly can.”
Union County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair also welcomed the decline in the unemployment rate, citing its positive impact on the county and the importance of continuing efforts to promote economic development and job growth.
“This is continued good news, it impacts everything from the hospital to other county quality of life activities,” Sinclair said. “As I’ve said before we cannot rest here, celebrate today, but focus on tomorrow.”
As in November, all the counties bordering Union County had single-digit unemployment in December including:
• Spartanburg County — 5.9 percent
• Newberry County — 5.4 percent
• Laurens County — 5.7 percent
• Cherokee County — 7.7 percent
• York County — 6.9 percent
• Fairfield County — 7.3 percent
The SCDEW reports that South Carolina’s unemployment rate declined from 7.1 percent in November to 6.6 percent in December. In November 2012, the state’s unemployment rate was 8.6 percent.
The report further states that the number of people employed in the nonagricultural sectors of the economy totaled 1,913,300. It further states that this was the seventh consecutive monthly increase since May 2013.
Those sectors of the economy that experienced job growth included trade, transportation, and utilities (3,200), leisure and hospitality (3,000), other services (1,200), manufacturing (500), and professional and business services (400). Sectors of the economy that saw decline in payrolls included government (1,100), construction (400), and education and health services (400).
The report states that the national unemployment rate declined from 7 percent in November to 6.7 percent in December.
It further states that December was the first time since 2001 that the state unemployment rate was lower than the national rate.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, Ext. 14.