SPARTANBURG — Union County veterans and military spouses looking for work will have a chance to meet with employers looking for workers during the “Hiring Our Heroes — Spartanburg” job fair on Thursday.
The job fair, which will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at the S.C. National Guard Armory, 301 N. Campus Boulevard, Spartanburg, is being hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s National Chamber Foundation and the American Legion. It is part of the Hiring Heroes program launched by the chamber in March 2011. In a statement announcing the job fair, the chamber said that since being launched, the program “has held more than 280 job fairs nationwide, helping more than 10,400 veteran and military spouses find employment.”
The event is also part of “Hiring 500,000 Heroes,” a program sponsored by the chamber, the foundation, and Capital One to “engage the business community in committing to hire 500,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2014.” In keeping with this effort, the chamber states that the job fair is expected to attract 30 businesses “with jobs available for veterans and military spouses of all ranks and levels of experience.” The companies involved “range from America’s biggest employers to small companies from across the state.”
Thursday’s job fair is being hosted by the foundation and the American Legion in partnership with the Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce; Office of the Mayor, Spartanburg, S.C.; the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service; the South Carolina Committee of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve; SCWorks; and other local partners.
Interested job seekers can register for free at hoh.greatjob.net. Walk-in job seekers are allowed, but veterans must provide military identification.
Thursday’s job fair comes less than a week after the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) announced that Union County’s unemployment rate declined from 14.8 percent in July to 14.7 percent in August.
The decline in its unemployment rate enabled Union County to go from having the sixth-highest unemployment rate in South Carolina to the seventh-highest.
Even as its unemployment rate declined slightly, the county’s labor force also declined, falling from 11,444 in July to 11,320 in August.
A possible reason for the decline in the unemployment rate and the county’s labor force was what the U.S. Department of Labor calls “discouraged workers,” the already unemployed who have stopped looking for work.
The SCDEW attributed the decline in the South Carolina labor force, which fell by 10,347 to 1,926,595 in August, to more people choosing to participate in the labor force. August was the fifth month in a row that the number of people employed in South Carolina had declined.
In August, the national unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent in July. This too was attributed by the SCDEW to fewer people participating in the labor force.
The ranks of Union County’s unemployed and discouraged workers apparently include a number of veterans who have been seeking the assistance of the county’s Office of Veterans Affairs.
Director Cindy Fore said Monday that since the downturn in the economy began, her office has seen its workload “increase 30 to 40 percent,” with veterans seeking assistance in coping with unemployment and related issues.
“We don’t have any information on how many veterans are unemployed but there seems to be a great many,” Fore said. “Our office has had a number of veterans in the past 12 to 18 months come in looking for assistance. They come in looking for disability or health care benefits, they are looking for some source of income.
“A lot of them, when they become unemployed, have no health insurance,” she said. “They come in looking for health care assistance to meet their medical needs.”
Fore said one veteran came in looking for a home loan, even though he was unable to buy a house.
“I had one man come look for a VA home loan,” Fore said. “He said he wasn’t looking to buy a home because he couldn’t afford to buy one. He just wanted to know if he could get a home loan because he needed the money.”
Fore said she told the man he could not get a VA home loan.
Her office, has, however, has been able to help a number of veterans get disability benefits and health care benefits. Fore said most the health care benefit claims have been filed with the VA health care system as “hardship cases.” She said this enabled many of the veterans seeking the local office’s help to get the health care benefits they need.
Mary Katherine Craft, public relations specialist for the SCDEW, said that as of 2011, the unemployment rate for South Carolina’s veterans was 7.3 percent. Craft said the national unemployment rate for veterans in 2011 was 8.3 percent. She said the unemployment rate of veterans in 2011 was
• 11.6 percent for Gulf War-era II veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan or both.
• 7.6 percent for World War II, Korean War and Vietnam-era veterans.
• 12.1 percent for veterans who have served on active duty since 2001.
• Male veterans between 18 to 24 years old who served during the Gulf War Era II had an unemployment rate of 29.1 percent last year.
Veterans needing the assistance of the local Veterans Affairs office are encouraged to call 429-1605.