Horry County saw its seasonal shift in jobs continue in September, but unlike August when the shift pushed the unemployment rate up, the rate remained flat at 6.6 percent.
Given that jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry make up 35 percent of local private sector employment, the drop in the number of people working this time of year is not alarming, said Rob Salvino, an economist at Coastal Carolina University.
And the fact that there are 4,000 more people with jobs in Horry County this September versus a year ago shows that the overall economy is growing, said Fred Richardson, board chairman of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp.
But the total workforce — those with jobs or looking for jobs — dropped by 6,000 people from August to September as did the number of people with jobs. At the same time, the number of unemployed went down by only 400 people, which resulted in Septembers jobless rate being the same as in August.
Horry was the only county in South Carolina to show no change in it unemployment rate from August to September, according to DEW.
All other counties showed a reduction in unemployment. In Georgetown County, the rate dropped from 6.7 percent in August to 6.5 percent in September.
The statewide rate rose 0.3 percent to 6.6 percent in September, but the number is seasonally adjusted and not really comparable to county rates, which aren’t, said Adrienne Fairwell, DEW spokeswoman.
The national unemployment rate was 5.9 percent in September.
Stephen Greene, CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Association said at least some of the increased number of jobs this September versus last is due to more fall visitors thanks to increased advertising.
But the drop-off in the number of people in the workforce is notable and likely due to the seasonal nature of many local jobs.
“It’s almost like the proverbial cliff,” Greene said of the job losses associated with the end of the tourist season.
Salvino noted that Horry’s unemployment rate fell from August to September in 2012 and 2013 but went up in 2010 and 2011.
Richardson said the drop-off in the number of available jobs shows that the area still needs to concentrate on finding new employers to sustain people year-round. He said he can’t be sure just why there are 4,000 more people working this year than last, but speculated that growth in construction and increased commercial development played a big part.
“The fact that there are more jobs is very encouraging,” he said.