Myrtle Beach area's July jobless rate a statistical quirk

08/18/2014 4:17 PM

12/19/2014 10:11 AM

Horry County’s unemployment rate rose in July because the additional 500-plus unemployed versus June carried greater statistical weight than the nearly 2,000 more people with jobs.

It’s a numbers thing, said Rob Salvino, an economist at Coastal Carolina University.

The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce reported Monday that Horry County’s jobless rate rose from 5.5 percent in June to 5.8 percent in July despite the growth in the number of people with jobs.

Salvino explained that the seeming anomaly is because the rise in the number without jobs carries more statistical weight than the rise in the number of those with jobs.

The number of jobs in Horry County likely was bolstered by continued strong hiring in the leisure and hospitality industry. The segment led statewide in the number of jobs added during July.

DEW reported the state’s unemployment rate rose from 5.3 percent to 5.7 percent in July because the number of unemployed grew by 9,124 while the number with jobs fell by 6,442, nearly the opposite scenario as in Horry.

Georgetown County’s unemployment rate increased to 6.1 percent from 5.7 percent in June, and like the state, the number of unemployed went up and the number with jobs fell.

Other than the statistical quirk, Salvino said he saw nothing surprising in the report.

"Myrtle Beach is pretty consistent with a growing economy,” he said.

Hiring statewide was led by leisure and hospitality, which added 1,000 jobs during the month, DEW reported, and it may have been at least part of what gave Horry a gain in the number of people with jobs.

“It’s been a very strong July,” said Stephen Greene, CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Association.

He said the season got off to a slow start because so many schools stayed in session in early June to make up for days missed because of winter weather. And Greene thinks the number of seasonal workers will hold through this month.

“The first wave (of seasonal job losses) starts after Labor Day,” he said.

Overall, the Hospitality Association expects a strong August and a robust third quarter, which encompasses July through September.

Salvino noted that besides the statewide gain in jobs for the leisure and hospitality industry, construction -- which is strong now along the Grand Strand -- added 600 jobs statewide, tied as the second strongest gain in the state with trade, transportation and utilities.

The Myrtle Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area was the only MSA in South Carolina to show a growth in the number of employed during the month, according to DEW figures that were not seasonally adjusted.

The Myrtle Beach MSA also led the state in growth in the number of jobs from July 2013 to July 2014, both in numbers -- 5.900 -- and percent -- 4.6.

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