Employment numbers improve

Employment numbers in both Barnwell and Allendale counties continued to improve according to information recently released by the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW).

The number of people employed rose to the highest level since December 2015 in both counties, according to DEW statistics.

In July there were 8,055 people employed in Barnwell County which is an increase of 92 people from June. There were 7,886 people with jobs in July 2016 – a difference of 169 jobs filled.

In Allendale County there were 2,581 people employed in July compared with 2,538 in June and 2,549 a year ago.

Statistically, Barnwell County’s unemployment rate stayed the same from June to July at 5.8 percent. In July 2016 the rate was 7.5 percent. Barnwell County is ranked 12th highest amongst South Carolina’s 46 counties in order of highest unemployment.

Allendale County’s rate went up slightly from 6.9 percent in June to 7 percent in July. This is still down from 8.7 percent unemployment recorded in July 2016. Allendale County’s percentage is ranked second highest in the state, just under Bamberg County which had 7.6 percent unemployment.

In both Barnwell and Allendale, the workforce – those with jobs and those looking for jobs – grew between June and July. Barnwell’s July workforce was 8,554 which is up 99 people from 8,455 in June. Allendale County’s workforce rose from 2,726 in June to 2,774 in July, an increase of 48 people.

Charleston County recorded the lowest unemployment rate of 3.5 percent in July.

According to the DEW, “South Carolina’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained unchanged in July from June’s revised rate of 3.9 percent. The last time the unemployment rate was below 4 percent before the latest revisions was in November 2000.”

The number of unemployed people edged lower by 141 to 91,486. The number of individuals working across the state fell by 2,217 to 2,228,354 people in July, resulting in the labor force decrease by 2,358 to 2,319,840 people.

Since July 2016, employment gains totaled 40,958, and the labor force has grown by 22,848 people. The level of unemployed people decreased by 18,110.

Nationally, the unemployment rate decreased from 4.4 percent in June to 4.3 percent in July.

DEW Executive Director Cheryl Stanton said, “While we are pleased to see the unemployment rate drop below 4 percent, we realize there are many families that recently have been affected by layoffs. Seeing our business community come together to provide opportunities to these and other workers encourages me that people will not be out of work long.”

She said, “South Carolina’s economy is strong, and businesses are hiring, as indicated by the nearly 60,000 jobs currently available across the state.”