Former Disney employees filing claims and layoffs by temporary agencies helped keep Union County’s unemployment rate the fourth highest in South Carolina for the second month in a row.
The SC Department of Employment and Workforce announced Friday that South Carolina’s unemployment rate rose from from 10.9 percent in July to 11.1 percent in August. In Union County, the unemployment rate rose from 17.4 percent in July to 17.6 percent in August.
Of South Carolina’s 46 counties, only Marion County (19.9 percent), Allendale County (19.4 percent) and Marlboro County (18.2 percent) had higher unemployment rates. Union County also had the fourth highest unemployment rate in July, behind only Marion, Allendale and Marlboro counties.
Irwin Goodwin, assistant area director for SC Department of Employment and Workforce in Union County, attributed the rise in the county’s unemployment rate to the continuing impact of the closing of the Disney Direct Marketing facility in Jonesville and layoffs by temporary agencies.
“There’s the layoffs from the Disney closing, a lot of those employees are coming in to file claims,” Goodwin said. “There’s also been layoffs by some temporary agencies and we’re working to try and help those people find jobs.”
Goodwin said the layoffs by the temporary agencies are due to the end of the work assignments the workers had been given.
August was the third month in a row that the county’s unemployment rate had risen. In May, the unemployment rate stood at 16 percent, but rose to 17.3 percent in June, then 17.4 percent in July and, now, 17.6 percent in August. The increases have been attributed to a combination of factors including college graduates attempting to join the workforce; high school students entering the job market for the summer; and the closing of the Disney plant. The plant closed in August after its operations were shifted to Memphis, TN, but some employees were let go in June with the rest following in July and August.
Goodwin also pointed out that the county’s unemployment rate was still lower than in Aug. 2010 when it stood at 18.3 percent. The county’s unemployment rate at that time was also the fourth highest in the state, behind only Marion, Allendale and Marlboro counties.
At the same time as its unemployment rate increased, the county’s labor force decreased from 11,284 to 11,248. Goodwin said the decrease in the labor force is likely due to students who were working during the summer going back to school or college.