Jobless rate goes up even as hiring trend improves

Barnwell and Allendale County’s unemployment rates went up in June but that statistic alone doesn’t tell the whole story.

Recently released figures from the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) show that more people were employed in June than in May in both Barnwell and Allendale counties. At the same time, more people joined the workforce, so the statistics show a more negative picture if only the unemployment rate is considered.

While Barnwell County’s unemployment rate ticked up to 5.8 percent in June from 5.1 percent in May, the labor force and the actual number of people employed grew.

The number of people with jobs grew from 7,849 in May to 7,925 June. The labor force – those with jobs and those looking for job – also grew from 8,276 to 8,417.

The jobless rate is significantly lower than June of 2016 when the unemployment rate was 7.3 percent and the number of unemployed was 620 people compared with 492 this year.

Barnwell County is ranked 8th highest among South Carolina’s 46 counties.

Allendale County is ranked 2nd highest with an unemployment rate of 7 percent.

Allendale’s rate rose from 6.4 in May to the 7 percent in June. Last year in June Allendale County had a rate of 8.9 percent.

Last year Allendale County had 246 people unemployed out of a workforce of 2,770. This year the county recorded 189 without jobs out of a workforce of 2,713 people.

Bamberg County recorded the highest unemployment rate of 7.6 percent while Charleston County had the lowest rate of 3.5 percent.

South Carolina’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell for the third consecutive month to its lowest level since December 2000, according to the DEW.

The June rate dropped to 4 percent from 4.1 percent in May.

The DEW reported the number of unemployed people dropped in June by 4,816 to 91,710, the lowest level since February 2001. The state’s labor force decreased by 6,905 people to 2,321,592, as the number of people working declined by 2,089 to 2,229,882.

Since June 2016, the labor force has grown by 24,625, and employment gains totaled 45,949. The level of unemployed people decreased to 21,324.

Nationally, the unemployment rate increased from 4.3 percent in May to 4.4 percent in June. South Carolina’s unemployment rate has remained below the national rate for 12 consecutive months.

DEW Executive Director Cheryl Stanton said, “South Carolina is working and nearly 46,000 of our citizens obtained jobs in the last year. We need to continue providing our citizens the skills South Carolina businesses require. But we also need to continue to focus on populations that historically have been on the sidelines, such as the disabled, veterans, ex-offenders and youth, to ensure we get more workers into the system.”