After declining for three months, Union County’s unemployment rate increased in April along with the state and national unemployment rates.
The SC Department of Employment and Workforce reports that, after nine consecutive months of decline, South Carolina’s unemployment rate climbed from 8.8 percent in April to 9.1 percent. The state’s unemployment rate was higher than the national unemployment rate which increased from 8.1 percent in April to 8.2 percent in May, the same as it was in March.
After falling for three consecutive months, Union County’s unemployment rate also increased in May. The county’s unemployment rate, which had fallen from a post holiday season high of 15.3 percent in January to 13.5 percent in April, climbed to 14.3 percent in May.
The decline in the county’s unemployment rate during three of the first four months of the year was attributed by officials with the Union SCWorks office to a combination of factors including statewide job growth and a gradual increase in hiring in Union County and adjacent counties. Those factors also included the arrival of new companies such as ESAB Welding and Cutting Products and the Belk eCommerce distribution and fulfillment center and the expansion of existing companies like Gestamp.
Roy Lowe, center manager for the Union SCWorks office, said the reason for the increase in the unemployment rate in May is less clear.
“We haven’t see any significant layoffs or workforce reductions locally,” Lowe said. “This may have occurred in other counties where people from Union are employed. Also, unemployment figures are based on the number of people who have lost their jobs and are not broken down into the categories of people quitting or getting fired as well as layoffs. The increase in the unemployment rate may be as much as result of people getting fired or quitting their jobs as being laid off.”
Despite the increase, the county’s unemployment rate was still lower in May than it was in May 2011 when it stood at 15.5 percent. It is still well below March 2010 when it stood at 19.2 percent.
Union County still ranks fifth in unemployment in South Carolina after Barnwell County (14.4 percent), Marlboro County (16.1 percent), Allendale County (16.1 percent) and Marion County (17.1 percent).