UNION COUNTY — The number of Union County residents with jobs grew by more than 100 in February as the county’s unemployment rate declined for the first time since November.
In a report issued this week, the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce announced that South Carolina’s unemployment rate decreased slightly from 8.7 percent in January to 8.6 percent in February. This is much lower than in February 2012 when the state’s unemployment rate was 9.4 percent.
Nationally, the unemployment rate posted a slightly larger decline, going from 7.9 percent in January to 7.7 percent in February.
The report further states that the number of persons employed in South Carolina increased from 1,987,724 in January to 1,991,575 in February, a gain of 3,851. Since February 2012 when there were 1,965,065 people employed in South Carolina, employment in the state has increased by 26,510.
The increase in the ranks of the employed was accompanied by an increase in the size of the state’s labor force which grew from 2,176,721 in January to 2,179,248, a gain of 2,527. Since February 2012 when it stood at 2,167,789, a total of 11,459 people have joined South Carolina’s labor force.
The number of unemployed in the state stood at 187,673 in February, down 1,324 from 188,997 in January and down 25,051 from February 2012.
Most non-agricultural sectors of the states economy added jobs including government (8,000), leisure and hospitality (4,100), education and health services (3,800), professional and business (2,300), construction (900), financial services (700), information (500), and manufacturing (300). The report states the increases in government, education and health services were the result of both public and private schools “ramping up hiring for the spring term” and “more demand for health care and social services.” The increase in the leisure and hospitality sector was due to hiring by hotels and restaurants while improved employment in professional and business services was the result of increased use of temporary agencies.
The report states that the only sectors to report job losses were trade, transportation and utilities (2,300) and other services (400).
At the local level, Union County’s unemployment rate fell from 14.3 percent in January to 13.9 percent in February. This was the lowest the county’s unemployment rate had been since November when it stood at 12.6 percent. It was also the first time since November that the county’s unemployment rate had decreased. February’s unemployment rate was lower than it was in February 2012 when it stood at 15 percent.
In February, there were 1,605 people unemployed in Union County, down 29 from 1,634 in January and down 126 from January 2012.
The decrease in the number of the unemployed was accompanied by greater increases in the number of the employed and the size of the county’s labor force.
Union County’s labor force grew from 11,458 in January to 11,530 in February, a gain of 72. The county’s labor force in February was also larger than in February 2012 when it totaled 11,506.
The ranks of the employed in Union County experienced even greater growth, increasing from 9,824 in January to 9,925 in February, a gain of 101. The number of persons with jobs in Union County in February was also larger than in February 2012 when the number of employed stood at 9,775.
Roy Lowe, center manager for the SCWorks Union office, said the increase in the size of the labor force and the increase in the number of the employed and the resulting decrease in unemployment indicates that many of those who entered the labor force did so with jobs.
“You’ve had an increase in the labor force and an increase in employment,” Lowe said. “It would appear that the majority of those who entered the work force entered employed.”
Lowe said the increase in employment was possibly due to the beginning of the summer hiring season and the need of retail and service industries for workers.
“Within Union County we’re not aware of any major hiring,” Lowe said. “We are, however, entering the summer seasonal hiring period. You have a lot of retail hiring in the summer and you also have a lot of service hiring.”
Sixth In Unemployment
Even though its unemployment rate declined in February, Union County went from having the seventh-highest unemployment rate in South Carolina to being tied with Dillon County for the sixth-highest rate.
The counties with higher unemployment rates were Barnwell County (14.4 percent), Bamberg County (14.6 percent), Marlboro County (16.1 percent), Allendale County (16.2 percent), and Marion County (17.9 percent).
All of South Carolina’s 46 counties experienced decreases in their unemployment rates in February except for Saluda County which was unchanged at 7.5 percent and Calhoun County which increased slightly from 10.1 percent to 10.2 percent.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.