Hospitality hiring for the summer helped Grand Strand jobless rates improve in July -- typically the peak month of employment at the beach -- while the rate got worse statewide, according to figures released Friday.
Horry County’s rate dropped to 9.4 percent in July from 10 percent in June as businesses beefed up their staffs for the summer tourism season, while Georgetown County’s rate dropped to 9.4 percent in July from 9.8 percent in June, according to statistics released Friday by the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.
South Carolina didn’t fare as well, with the rate increasing to 9.6 percent in July from 9.4 percent in June. Nationally, the rate also ticked up in July to 8.3 percent.
“Horry County has a little more positive momentum than the state,” said Rob Salvino, research economist at Coastal Carolina University. “It seems that tourism is doing relatively well compared to other sectors of the economy.”
Horry County’s rate will jump in the fall as businesses shed the summer workers, and off-season tourism won’t help shield the area from the economic pressures already weighing more heavily statewide and nationally.
“There’s still just a lot of uncertainty,” Salvino said. “A little bit of caution there to see what will happen over the next year.”
The jobs picture has slowly improved along the Grand Strand, with the jobless rate in July down from 10.1 percent in July 2011, according to the state workforce department.
A spattering of new, non-tourism jobs have come online, including nearly 200 at the Target store that opened last month, about 100 at a new call center for Frontier Communications and about 34 to be added next summer for a new manufacturing hub for BauschLinnemann North America, a producer of surfaces and edge bandings for furniture makers.
“There’s not going to be any extreme increase in the employment level,” Salvino said. “We’ve been moving pretty slow. That’s just going to continue to happen.”
That means jobseekers likely still will face a challenging hiring environment.
“It will still be very competitive,” Salvino said. “It will remain competitive for quite some time.”
Since July 2011, South Carolina has added about 11,300 jobs, with the biggest gain in professional and business services, which added 5,500 jobs, most in temporary employment services, according to the state workforce department. Manufacturing also has been a bright spot, adding 4,600 jobs.
But sectors key to the Grand Strand’s economy shed jobs since July 2011. Construction dropped 2,100 jobs, while leisure and hospitality dropped 1,000 jobs.
From June to July this year, South Carolina shed 22,700 jobs, reflecting in part the decline in education jobs during the summer. Government shed 15,300 jobs; trade, transportation and utilities dropped 3,000 jobs; professional and business services dropped 1,700 jobs and manufacturing dropped 1,600 jobs. The information sector had the only increase, adding 200 jobs.
“The state’s unemployment rate has once again mirrored the movements of the national rate. A decline in payroll employment is typical for this time of year, as educational institutions are on break for the summer,” Abraham Turner, executive director of the state workforce department, said in a news release. “However, DEW remains steadfast and focused on its efforts to put South Carolinians back to work.”
Marion County had the state’s highest jobless rate in July, at 17.6 percent, while Lexington County had the state’s lowest rate at 7.3 percent.
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