Like the state, Anderson County reported more people than ever earning paychecks in May, County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn said the record employment reflects past successes that have generated momentum in relocation and expansion announcements.
“It’s our past successes that are now paying dividends,” Dunn said.
“You’ve got to be looking at the Michelins and First Qualities They are hiring people right now,” Dunn said of the two companies that in recent years announced expansions in Anderson County. “We’ve still got those going on. Right now, South Carolina and the Upstate is a great area. We’re in great shape right now. We’ve got to take advantage of the momentum and keep going.”
An S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce report (.pdf) Friday shows more than 86,000 people were working in May in Anderson County, continuing a trend of monthly employment increases. About 2,200 more people in Anderson County were working than in May 2015, the report said. The county’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 4.4% in May from 4.7% in April and from 5.6% in May 2015.
Anderson County reported the record employment in a statement. Employment and Workforce spokesman Bob Bouyea said that, like the state, other counties also likely had record-high employment in May, though there is no report on county records statewide.
Greenville County’s 4.1% unemployment rate in May, down from 4.4% in April and 5.1% in May 2015, tied for third lowest in the state behind Lexington and Charleston counties, both at 4%. Spartanburg County had a 4.6% unemployment rate in May, down from 4.9% in April and 5.9% in May 2015. Pickens County dropped to 4.7% from 5.1% a month earlier. Month-to-month unemployment rates in Oconee, Laurens and Greenwood counties dropped slightly in May to 5%. Abbeville County’s rate dropped to 5.4% from 5.8%, Cherokee County decreased to 5.8% from 6.2% and Union County dropped to 6.7% from 6.8%.
As the number of South Carolinians working continued to climb to a new record level in May, the state’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.6%, the state reported. The jobless rate in April was 5.8%.
Bamberg County’s 8.4% unemployment was highest in the state.
Anderson County tied with Beaufort and Dorchester counties for 5th lowest unemployment rate in the state. Dunn said with the report showing record employment and the drop in unemployment “on the heels of the grand opening of the Coca-Cola distribution facility and the announcement of Engineered Plastic Components bringing 43 jobs and $5.3 million in investment, I can’t help but be optimistic about our prospects in the months ahead.”
The state agency said in its monthly update that the number of people holding down jobs in May rose by 2,988 to a record 2,184,782, while the number of unemployed workers dropped by 4,493 throughout the month to 129,802. The labor force declined in May by 1,505 to 2,314,584 people.
“I continue to be encouraged to see the commitment businesses are making to South Carolina,” said Cheryl Stanton, the agency’s director. “They trust that we can provide them with skilled workers as they create jobs by expanding or opening new facilities in the state. This has led to another record-high employment month, meaning more people are able to provide for themselves and their families.”
Since May 2015, the number of people working increased by 71,401, and the number of unemployed workers has declined by 7,243. Meanwhile, the state’s workforce has risen by 64,158 people since a year ago.
Stanton said there are more than 60,000 jobs available across the state.
Nationally, May’s unemployment rate fell to 4.7% from 5% as many people left the labor force.
Among the state’s metropolitan areas, Charleston recorded the lowest jobless rate in May at 4.2%, followed by Greenville at 4.3%, Columbia at 4.5%, and Florence at 5.5%. The rate in Richland County was 4.7%.
Columbia Regional Business Report contributed to this story.