Horry County’s unemployment rate rose 0.1 point to 7.8 percent in November, according to figures released Friday by the state Department of Employment and Workforce.
While an increase in the number of jobless isn’t surprising along the Grand Strand this time of year, the state’s number shows there were actually 88 fewer people in Horry County unemployed in November versus October. The increased rate came because there were more than 2,000 fewer people in the county’s workforce in November, and therefore the number of unemployed was a greater percentage of the whole.
The November rate was a significant drop from November 2012, when the rate was 9.7 percent.
Rob Salvino, an economist at Coastal Carolina University, said there’s nothing unusual about the slight jobless gain in November, but he suspects the number could be tempered by Christmas hiring.
Salvino said that the area’s unemployment rate is normally highest in December, January and February.
He said that because of the Christmas hiring, though, November and December unemployment rates aren’t good indicators of the overall economy.
The DEW statistics show the Myrtle Beach metropolitan statistical area tied with the Charleston MSA for adding the second most jobs – 3,400 – between November 2012 and November this year. The Columbia MSA topped the list with 6,500 new jobs over the year.
The report said that the leisure and hospitality industry lost 2,300 jobs from October to November, but was 4,700 higher this November when compared to November 2012.
Construction jobs, which is an area of employment that has seen significant gains along the Grand Strand this year, lost 100 jobs statewide from October to November, but was up 4,800 since November 2012.
Statewide, the unemployment rate declined 0.4 points to 7.1 percent from October to November, a figure just 0.1 point below the national unemployment rate in November.
“This is the first time since July 2008 that the state’s total employment reached over 2 million,” DEW executive director Cheryl Stanton said in a press release, “and though we are happy to see the unemployment rate go down, we recognize that we still have a lot of work to do.”
Salvino said the most significant number was the drop in unemployment from November 2012 to November 2013.
“As long as it’s down two points from last year,” he said, “that’s the trend you want.”
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.