Unemployment continues to fall | News | The Press and Standard

by | May 25, 2017 5:00 am

Last Updated: May 24, 2017 at 12:00 pm

By GEORGE SALSBERRY

gsalsberry@lowcountry.com

It last happened over 16 years ago.

The latest unemployment numbers posted by the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce showed Colleton County’s unemployment has slipped below four percent.

The latest numbers showed Colleton County recording an unemployment rate of 3.9 percent in April, a decrease of four-tenths of a percent from the March figure of 4.3 percent.

The last time Colleton County had an unemployment number below four percentage points occurred in December of 2000, when the county recorded 3.7 percent.

Colleton County Economic Development Director Heyward Horton was in Canada when contacted about the newest unemployment figures.

“It’s down there pretty low,” Horton said.

Horton said the continuing decrease suggests that Colleton County residents are finding employment opportunities both inside the county and outside the county.

“The latest numbers we have been working from tell us that about 5,200 people crank up their car and leave Colleton County every day to go to work outside the county,” Horton said. Most of those commuters are heading to work in Charleston and Dorchester counties.

Horton said when he is calling on companies to try and persuade them to look at Colleton County as a potential relocation site, pointing out that their pool of possible employees includes those who are currently at work outside the county.

He said that “with a good job and a good wage, those people could be attracted to work at a company in the county and not have to deal with a big commute every day.”

He has been using that portion of his sales pitch this week in Canada in interviews with companies interested in possible relocation to Colleton County — two or three interviews a day for the past week.

“Some are interested,” Horton reported. “A lot of what we saw are companies that are just beginning to think about coming to the United States.”

One of those Canadian companies Horton visited is farther along in their decision-making on U.S. expansion and has reached the point where they are looking to find the right spot. That company’s management is expected to visit Colleton County this summer.

As those over 5,000 people are driving out of the county for work, there are others driving into Colleton County from surrounding counties to work.

Most of the workers driving into Colleton County on a daily basis for work are coming from Dorchester and Charleston counties.

Having a migration of workers coming into and out of the county on a daily basis, Horton said, “is not unusual by any means.”

Horton said although he is pleased to see the unemployment rate decreasing, “we have to remember that there are people who are not counted in that number, who have given up looking for jobs. They don’t get counted.”

“While the number is what it is and we have to live by the numbers,” Horton said, “it is a little bit misleading, that there are more people that could go to work than that number actually reflects.”

He hopes that those who have given into the frustration and stopped looking for work will look at the numbers and begin looking for work again.

“JGBR will do more hiring over the summer, J. & L Wire is looking for a couple more people and Crescent Dairy & Beverage has some openings as well,” Horton said. “The opportunity is out there for job seekers.”

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