The unemployment rate in Horry County increased in June as more people started to look for jobs.
The rate increased 0.2 percentage points from May to 10.1 percent last month, according to statistics released Friday by the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. That’s still 0.6 percentage points lower than a year ago.
Despite 789 more people finding jobs, the 1,151 more who started looking for work led to the increase.
“Our employment is continually increasing. The unemployment rate increase is driven from a larger number of unemployed people,” said Rob Salvino, a research economist at Coastal Carolina University. “Since we are a tourism economy, a lot of people were just late to get the jobs for the season and are still looking, but they are still unemployed. They may not have been in the workforce three months prior.”
Horry County experiences an increase in the labor force during the summer as more jobs are needed during the peak tourist season, Salvino said.
Frank Hefner, the director of economic analysis at the College of Charleston, says that there is still a bright outlook for Horry County despite the slight increase.
“Even though the rate went up, you had more jobs and you had more people looking. More people looking is a good thing as long as you are creating jobs,” Hefner said.
On Friday, Charles Witsell, who moved to Myrtle Beach from New York about two months ago, made his second visit this week and fourth in two months to the Coastal Workforce Center.
“I thought this would be a better job market since there’s nothing up there, but it’s been extremely hard to find a job,” Witsell said.
Denise Simpson, an Horry County native, has been looking for a job for more than a year, stopping by the Coastal Workforce Center on Friday for the fourth time.
“It’s been very, very, very hard to find a job. I’ll do anything from cashier, laundry, I’ll just do anything. I have six kids I need to support,” Simpson said.
The jobless rate also increased in Georgetown County from 9.5 percent in May to 9.9 percent in June.
The unemployment rate in South Carolina increased 0.3 percentage points to 9.4 percent in June, the first increase in 10 months but still almost a full percentage point lower than June of last year.
“The reason the unemployment rate goes up during the summer is teachers are laid off and all of that, but that happens every summer. This same time last year the same thing happened, but here we are at 9.4 [percent],” Hefner said. “We are still better off than last year but what I find most disturbing in the South Carolina number is the labor force dropped and the number of jobs also dropped even faster so the unemployment rate went up.”
Marion County has the state’s highest unemployment rate at 18 percent, and Lexington County has the state’s lowest at 7.7 percent, according to the state workforce department. Only Saluda, Fairfield, and McCormick counties saw a decrease in the unemployment rate in June.
Nationally, the rate remained unchanged from May to June at 8.2 percent.
Salvino says he expects Horry County’s unemployment rate to drop in July.
“Historically, July is the highest level of employment for Horry County. Next month should show a higher number of employed because those people looking for jobs in June usually can find a job for the summer,” Salvino said.
Relief for those seeking jobs outside tourism might also be on the way. Business recruiters are courting three companies, with the potential to create 1,164 jobs, some of them in manufacturing. Officials aren’t naming the companies or giving many other details until the deals are approved.
Contact BILLY CROSBY at 626-0310.