Seven Additional S.C. Counties Certified as Work Ready

COLUMBIA—Seven counties were recognized today for achieving certification through the South Carolina Work Ready Communities (SCWRC) initiative. The counties are:  Barnwell, Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Lee, Lexington, and Marion.

Gov. Nikki Haley announced that more than half of South Carolina’s counties are now certified as work ready, continuing to outpace the nation in an initiative that showcases the skilled workforce that businesses require in a competitive economy.

“We are well on our way to becoming the nation’s first certified work ready state, and that is a huge reason to celebrate in every part of South Carolina,” Gov. Haley said. “This is a perfect example of Team South Carolina coming together to prove how committed we are to training a highly skilled workforce that is capable of meeting every need a company in our state may have.”

The seven newly certified counties have met all needed workforce and education goals, demonstrating to businesses a strong local workforce and commitment to economic growth. The Palmetto State now has 29 counties with this designation, which is more than any other state in the nation.

“Seven more counties gaining certification illustrates just how committed South Carolina is to developing a world-class workforce,” said Cheryl M. Stanton, executive director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. “We have seen record employment highs in our state over the past year, and with more than half of South Carolina’s counties now certified as work ready communities, this will further pave the way to filling those open jobs with qualified workers.”

To become a South Carolina Work Ready Community, a county has to reach or exceed goals in earning National Career Readiness Certificates (achieved through WorkKeys® testing), meet or exceed the three-year graduation rate average or improvement percentage, and engage business support.

The latest work ready counties join the ranks of 22 others that have been certified since the initiative began in 2013. Find a map of certified counties here.

For additional information, visit www.scworkready.org.

SC’s March Employment Situation

Labor Force Continues To Rise, Employment Sets Another Record

The number of South Carolinians working in March increased 5,838 and reached another historic high with an estimated 2,096,110 people. March marks the 64th consecutive month of employment growth in the Palmetto State.

The state’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate rose modestly to 6.7 percent in March from 6.6 percent in February, as the labor force expanded for the 14th consecutive month. The labor force numbered 2,245,987 people, an increase of 7,536 over the month. During the first quarter of 2015, the number of people entering the labor force marked an all-time high. The vast majority of the people are finding work. The estimated number of unemployed persons was 149,877, showing a slight increase since February of 1,698.

Nationally, the unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.5 percent.

“I’m excited about today’s jobs numbers because South Carolina’s economy continues to expand,” said Cheryl M. Stanton, executive director of the SC Department of Employment and Workforce. “The state has the most South Carolinians working ever, 64 consecutive months of employment growth and 14 consecutive months of labor force expansion.”

Read the full employment situation here.

Tax Season Tips for Job Seekers

April 15 is almost here. But before you push the button or drop your income tax paperwork in the mail, consider these tips if you’ve been unemployed or conducted a job search in the past year.

moneycalendarUnemployment compensation is taxable income, according to the Internal Revenue Service. If you received benefits through the SC Department of Employment and Workforce in 2014, you should have received a 1099-G via your MyBenefits portal account.

If you have trouble accessing or downloading your 1099-G, check out this step-by-step guide.

Don’t forget; you can also deduct certain expenses associated with your job search. The search must be for employment in your current field, and you cannot deduct if there was a substantial break in time from the end of your last job and the start of your search.

Below are some allowable deductions outlined in IRS Publication 529:

  • Employment and outplacement agency fees.
  • Expenses for preparing and mailing resumes to prospective employers.
  • Travel and transportation expenses associated with your job search.

Find Open Jobs in S.C.’s Fastest Growing Cities

You may have already heard that the Palmetto State is home to three of the nation’s fastest growing metropolitan areas, according to the U.S. Census.

Congratulations to Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach (second behind The Villages in Florida), Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort (13th overall) and Charleston-North Charleston (17th overall).

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Maybe it’s all that salt air attracting new arrivals to South Carolina’s breathtaking coast. If you’re thinking about following the crowd and relocating to one of these hot spots, check out jobs.scworks.org to find a job in the area. Just enter the zip code and a keyword to find available jobs.

To give you a jumpstart, we’ve pulled the top 25 companies posting the most job openings in each of these areas. Check them out below.

Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach:

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Hilton Head Island-Bluffon-Beaufort (Beaufort County) :

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Charleston-North Charleston:

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To get up-to-the minute details on hiring events in these and other areas throughout South Carolina, follow @scworksinfo on Twitter.

 

 

South Carolina’s January 2015 Employment Situation

Employment Sets New Record – Continues Upward Momentum

In January, South Carolina broke yet another record for the number of people working as the total grew to 2,080,031, an increase of approximately 10,841 compared to December’s revised estimate.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held steady at 6.6 percent in January, showing no change from the revised December benchmarked estimate.

The unemployment rate has remained steady over the past four months, while employment and labor force estimates continue to expand.

The number of unemployed persons was 146,989, marking little change since December 2014. Nationally, the unemployment rate in January 2015 was little changed at 5.7 percent.

“January marks the 62nd consecutive month of employment growth in South Carolina,” said Cheryl M. Stanton, executive director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. “All of South Carolina should celebrate as the state’s economy continues to expand and add jobs. As a state, we must also work more strategically to align available workers with the more than 70,000 available jobs. Governor Haley’s SucceedSC plan that will train the state’s workforce in high-demand jobs will do just that.”

Read the full report, including county-level data, here.

 

Palmetto State Sees Record-Breaking Year for Number of People Working

According to the SC Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW), newly-released figures show that 2014 was a record-breaking year for South Carolina. The numbers show that more South Carolinians were in the labor force working and looking for work by the end of the year than ever before in the state’s history.

In 2014, South Carolina’s employment remained above the two-million mark increasing every month throughout the year. The number of South Carolinians employed in December 2014 was 2,069,190, growing by more than 35,000 since January.

“Amazingly, a comparison of data from January of 2013 to December of 2014, the state has seen an increase in the employment level by approximately 75,000 people, reflecting continued progress over the nearly two-year period,” said Cheryl M. Stanton, DEW Executive Director. “Furthermore, the labor force increased by 46,800 during the year to slightly more than 2.2 million people.”

The employment situation for January will be released March 17, and February’s figures will be released March 27.

*About benchmarking: The Bureau of Labor Statistics re-estimates labor force data annually to take advantage of the latest available information related to unemployment claims, nonfarm employment, population changes, and other data used in generating the estimates.

 

Partnership Forged to Boost S.C. Workforce Services

Gov. Nikki Haley, along with a dozen state leaders, formalized a partnership Thursday that will boost South Carolina’s public workforce system, SC Works.

The ultimate goal is to unify numerous workforce programs into a single, integrated customer-focused network in each local community.

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The following agencies and organizations signed the partnership agreement:

  • Office of the Governor (Office of Economic Opportunity)
  • Department of Employment and Workforce
  • Department of Corrections
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Juvenile Justice
  • Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services
  • Department of Social Services
  • Indian Development Council
  • Job Corps
  • Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging
  • SC Technical College System
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Department

The formal partnership agreement is the culmination of discussions that began more than a year ago among agencies impacting workforce development. The initiative was spearheaded by the State Workforce Investment Board.

Unemployment Trust Fund to Reach Solvency in 2015; S.C. Businesses to Pay Less in Federal Unemployment Taxes

DEW is on track to have the state’s loan to the federal government for the unemployment trust fund paid off in summer 2015 thanks in part to making a record three payments last year.

In December, the agency paid $75 million bringing South Carolina’s loan balance to $195 million and saving the state potentially $1.7 million in interest.

“Making three early loan repayments in a single year is a great sign for our state and is another example of the kind of fiscally responsible government that our administration is committed to delivering,” Gov. Nikki Haley said when the payment was announced. “Ultimately, these payments are saving our businesses and taxpayers millions in interest, and are the direct result of the record breaking employment South Carolina continues to experience.”

When the 2014 unemployment tax rate was set, the federal government estimated 1,968,209 South Carolinians were employed. As of October 2014, 2,045,499 people were employed in the state, leading to additional tax collections.

In addition, South Carolina paid approximately $70.3 million less in unemployment benefits between November 2013 and October 2014 compared to the same time frame during the previous year.

“I am excited about this extra payment because it is an outcome of our state experiencing record highs in employment during the past year,” DEW Executive Director Cheryl M. Stanton said in December. “At the same time, we have seen a dramatic decrease in benefit payments, which shows our economy is continuing to improve.”

To date, South Carolina has repaid more than $780 million of the $977 million borrowed from the federal government.

For the fourth consecutive year, S.C. businesses will only pay the minimum 0.6 percent per employee for federal unemployment taxes because the Palmetto State once again met the requirements—including making voluntary loan payments— to obtain the maximum credit. Receiving this credit means S.C. businesses will save up to $140 per worker.

South Carolina is the only borrowing state to receive the full 5.4 percent credit.

 

 

South Carolina Outpaces Nation in Work Ready Certification Efforts

Nearly half of South Carolina’s counties are now certified as work ready, outpacing the nation in an initiative that showcases the highly skilled workforce that businesses require in a competitive economy.

Eighteen counties were recently recognized for achieving certification through the South Carolina Work Ready Communities (SCWRC) initiative. The counties are: Abbeville, Allendale, Anderson, Bamberg, Beaufort, Berkeley, Cherokee, Dorchester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Florence, Greenwood, Laurens, Marlboro, Newberry, Pickens, Sumter and Williamsburg.

Certified communitiesmapThe 18 newly certified counties have all met specified workforce and education goals, demonstrating to businesses a strong workforce and commitment to economic growth. The Palmetto State now has 22 counties with this designation, which is more than any other state in the nation.

“With almost half of our counties now certified, we are well on our way to becoming the first certified work ready state in the nation,” Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster said during a December ceremony recognized the newest Work Ready communities. “The next four years will be critical, focusing on economic development and these initiatives will help bring prosperity and growth to our state. This will show the rest of the country and world that South Carolina is ready and open for business.”

SCWRC provides a framework to strengthen economic development using a community-based approach grounded in certifying counties as work ready. To become a South Carolina Work Ready Community, each county has to reach or exceed goals in the following categories: National Career Readiness Certificates (WorkKeys® testing), graduation rates, soft-skills and business support.

“Counties of all sizes are catching on to the effectiveness of the Work Ready program and realizing that certification allows each area to market itself to new and existing businesses and ultimately results in more jobs for South Carolinians,” said Cheryl M. Stanton, executive director of the SC Department of Employment and Workforce.

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Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster talks about the importance of Certified Work Ready Communities during an event in December at the State House.

The latest work ready counties join the ranks of Clarendon, McCormick, Colleton and Saluda, which previously received the South Carolina Work Ready Community designation.

South Carolina was one of four pilot states selected to participate in the ACT Certified Work Ready Community program.

Find out how your business can take part in the initiative at scworkready.org.

 

 

 

DEW Proposes Regulations to Rebuild the UI Trust Fund and Clarify Suitable Work

DEW has submitted proposed regulations that will be reviewed by the General Assembly this session. One regulation relates to rebuilding the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund while the other relates to amending the definition of suitable work for UI claimants.

Trust Fund Rebuild

South Carolina is on track  to repay $977 million that was borrowed from the federal government for the UI Trust Fund before the end of 2015. The current outstanding balance on the loan is $195 million.

State law [South Carolina Code Section 41-31-45 (C)] states that “after the fund returns to solvency, the department must promulgate regulations concerning the income needed to pay benefits in each year and return the trust fund to an adequate level…”

Knowing that the Trust Fund is expected to be paid this year, DEW submitted a proposed regulation last year to rebuild the Trust Fund under the principle that South Carolina should never have to borrow money from the federal government again and that S.C. businesses want as much certainty and stability as possible when it comes to their unemployment taxes.

Proposed Rebuild regulation:

  • Uses a four-year rebuilding period based on the theory of a seven-year economic cycle and the desire to rebuild the fund during the good economic years.
  • Provides triggers to maintain stability for businesses in the event of an economic downturn and to avoid having to borrow money from the federal government again.
  • States that in the event that the balance of the UI Trust Fund at the end of the most recently completed fiscal year is greater than the fund adequacy target, DEW may use the surplus amount to reduce taxes in the following year.

The regulation was structured based on the current statute that was implemented to repay the loan. If the regulation is passed as written, no statutory changes would need to be made to rebuild the Trust Fund. View the regulation here.

Suitable Work

DEW is proposing to amend the suitable work regulation as a best practice recommendation from a third-party business process review. The proposed regulation is modeled after Georgia’s suitable work policy.

The regulation will provide guidance to UI claimants and the public on what DEW considers available suitable work in consideration of the claimant’s prior earnings and the length of unemployment.

Currently, claimants do not have a regulation or a statute to guide them in determining how the wage in an offer of work would be considered when determining whether the position is available suitable work and if their refusal to accept such work would be considered a disqualification. View the regulation here.

What’s  Next?

Both regulations were printed in the State Register on September 26, 2014 which opened up a public comment period on the regulations through November 12, 2014. There were not enough comments received to warrant a public hearing through the Administrative Law Court.

The regulations have been submitted to the General Assembly for review, and the General Assembly has 120 calendar days (during session) to review the regulations.