Jobless rate jumps as usual in January, but still better than a year ago

dbryant@thesunnews.comMarch 17, 2014 

Horry County’s jobless rate jumped as usual in January from December, but still showed improvement over the same time a year ago, according to statistics released Monday.

With hiring for the tourism season already well underway, the just released statistics for January show the usual winter jump in the jobless rate -- to 9.4 percent from 7.9 percent in December -- but also a continued improvement over the previous year, when Horry County’s jobless rate hit 12.1 percent in January 2013.

About 109,986 residents had jobs in January, roughly 2,100 more than in January 2013.

“Employment growth is positive,” said Rob Salvino, an economist at Coastal Carolina University. “In general this has been the trend.”

South Carolina’s unemployment went down in January for the eighth month in a row, dipping to 6.4 percent from 6.6 percent in December, the first time in more than a decade that South Carolina’s unemployment rate had been below the national rate.

Nationally, unemployment was 6.6 percent in January, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. South Carolina’s rate was tied with four other states for 21st-highest in the nation.

In January, the number of employed people in South Carolina reached a record high of nearly 2,031,000, an increase of more than 22,000 during the past year.

Along the Grand Strand, employment already is starting to ramp up for the tourism season, with a flurry of job fairs in recent weeks. Horry County’s unemployment rate typically falls as the season gears up and businesses bring on workers for the tourism season.

Two recent job fairs for seasonal and year-round work sponsored by Goodwill Industries drew a combined 700 jobseekers, with about 24 of those hired on the spot, according to Goodwill. About 1,650 applications were submitted during the job fairs, one at Myrtle Beach Mall and the other at Inlet Square Mall.

“Typically this time of year is when businesses start hiring for spring and summer. There’s more of that happening this year,” said Rick Shelley, mission services vice president for Goodwill along the Grand Strand.

In the past year, leisure and hospitality has led the state in job growth, adding 9,500 jobs from January 2013 to January of this year, according to the state department of employment and workforce.

An overall improvement in the economy, especially with real estate, also has helped create more jobs along the Grand Strand, Salvino said.

“We’ve had a good recovery, certainly in housing,” he said.

The February jobless numbers are set to be released next week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact DAWN BRYANT at 626-0296 or at dbryant@thesunnews.com or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_dawnbryant.

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