Even though it still has one of the highest unemployment rates in South Carolina, Union County’s unemployment rate continued to decline in April.
The SC Department of Employment and Workforce announced Friday that South Carolina’s unemployment rate declined for the ninth consecutive month, falling from 8.9 percent in March to 8.8 percent in April. In April 2011, the state’s unemployment rate stood at 10.4 percent.
Nationwide, the unemployment rate fell from 8.2 percent in March to 8.1 percent in April.
In Union County, the unemployment rate has fallen three of the first four months of 2011. In January, the unemployment rate climbed to 15.3 percent with the end of the holiday shopping season and the elimination of those jobs. Since then it has declined, falling to 15 percent in February, 13.6 percent in March and 13.5 percent in April.
The April unemployment rate is not only lower than the three previous months, it is also lower than the Dec. 2011 unemployment rate which stood at 15.2 percent. It is also lower than the unemployment rate in April 2011 which stood at 15.1 percent.
Despite the decrease, Union County still has the fifth-highest unemployment rate in South Carolina behind Barnwell County (13.7 percent), Allendale County (15.5 percent), Marlboro County (15.7 percent), and Marion County (16.8 percent).
Roy Lowe, center manager for the SC Works office in Union, said Monday that the decline in the unemployment rate in Union County in April is due in large part to hiring by the new Belk eCommerce distribution and fullfillment center.
“Belk has been hiring directly and has also been hiring through different agencies,” Lowe said. “There’s also been a couple of other job fairs locally for various companies, so we’ve had some minimal hiring.”
The distribution and fullfillment center is located in the old Disney Director Marketing distribution facility on US 176 in the Jonesville area. Belk is investing $4.5 million in the center which is projected to generate 124 jobs over the next five years. The company plans to have the center begin operations in June and hiring got underway in April with a job fair held by ReadySC in conjunction with SCWorks and Spartanburg Community College at the Union County Advanced Technology Center. More than 500 applicants attended the job fair hoping to fill one of the 30 order processor (receiving/putaway/picking/packing) positions filled in the initial hiring.