May 2016, Employment Situation

South Carolina’s Employment Situation May 2016

Employment Growth Remains Positive

The number of South Carolinians working continued its climb to a new record level in May, which helped push the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate down to 5.6 percent in May from 5.8 percent in April. The number of people employed increased by 2,988 to 2,184,782.

Also driving the rate lower was a decrease in the labor force. The number of unemployed individuals dropped by 4,493 over the month to 129,802. The labor force declined in May by 1,505 to 2,314,584 people.

Since May 2015, the number of people working increased by 71,401, and unemployment fell by 7,243 individuals. The labor force has grown by 64,158 people since a year ago.

Nationally, May’s unemployment rate fell from 5 percent to 4.7 percent as many people left the labor force.

 Nonfarm Employment by Industry (Seasonally Adjusted1)

Seasonally adjusted, nonfarm payrolls improved from April to May 2016 by 3,800 to a record high of 2,043,700.

Increases in South Carolina were primarily due to gains in Education and Health Services (+1,800) and Construction (+1,200). Additional growth was also seen in Government (+700); Professional and Business Services (+500); Leisure and Hospitality (+500); and Manufacturing (+300). Month-to-month declines were reported in Information (-500); Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (-300); Other Services (-300); and Financial Activities (-100).

Compared to May 2015, seasonally adjusted, nonfarm jobs were up by 47,300. Large increases occurred in Professional and Business Services (+11,500); Education and Health Services (+8,500); Construction (+6,500); Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (+6,100); Leisure and Hospitality (+4,800); Manufacturing (+4,100); Government (+3,400); Financial Activities (+2,000); and Other Services (+700). Information (-500) saw a slight dip.

 Nonfarm Employment by Industry (Not Seasonally Adjusted2)

Not seasonally adjusted, nonfarm payroll employment increased from April to May 2016 (+10,400) for a total of 2,060,500. Growth was reported in Leisure and Hospitality (+4,300); Professional and Business Services (+2,700); Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (+1,900); Education and Health Services (+800); Financial Activities (+700); Construction (+500); Manufacturing (+500); and Other Services (+100). Mining and Logging remained the same, while some jobs were lost in Government (-900) and Information (-200).

Since May 2015, not seasonally adjusted, nonfarm jobs were up overall in South Carolina’s workforce (+45,400). Strong annual gains came from Professional and Business Services (+13,000); Education and Health Services (+8,800); Construction (+6,000); Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (+5,500); Government (+3,900); Manufacturing (+3,700); Leisure and Hospitality (+2,700); Financial Activities (+1,800); Other Services (+300); and Mining and Logging (+200). Information (-500) fell.

DEW Launches New Website

For Immediate Release

June 21, 2016

DEW Launches New Website to Better Support Workforce Development, Employers and Jobseekers

The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) has launched a new version of the website. The update not only refreshes the look and feel of the site, it also reorganizes the site’s navigation.

DEW reviewed site analytics and conducted internal interviews and focus groups in order to build and restructure the website. Some of the new features include a cleaner look and feel that improves readability of the site, homepage icons directly linking users to the most searched DEW information and new tabs that better align subject matter.

Always focused on the goal of connecting jobseekers and employers, the new website efficiently hosts information about unemployment, helping people find jobs, matching businesses with qualified candidates and collecting and disseminating state and federal statistics.

“We are excited to launch our new website. Our goal in developing this site was to help people easily find the information about benefits they may need and the services we provide. We are committed to assisting those in need and the businesses we serve efficiently and in a manner they deserve,” said Cheryl Stanton, executive director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.



The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce is putting South Carolinians to work. The agency invests in building a pipeline of quality workers, matches workers with jobs, and is a bridge for individuals who find themselves out of work for no fault of their own. This promotes financial stability and economic prosperity for employers, individuals and communities. SCDEW is dedicated to advancing South Carolina through services that meet the needs of the state’s businesses, jobseekers and those looking to advance their careers.

Focus on manufacturing

Manufacturing is a main focus for South Carolina, and the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) partners with several manufacturing organizations, including the S.C. Manufacturing Alliance, S.C. Chamber of Commerce and the S.C. Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP), to respond to the needs of manufacturers and their employees as well as provide them with resources.

To give you an example of the impact of manufacturing in South Carolina, consider this:

  • Last year the manufacturing industry had a statewide impact of more than $1 billion.
  • Manufacturing holds 12 percent of all employment in South Carolina.
  • Data shows that each manufacturing job creates 2 1/2 other spin-off jobs.
  • As of the end of this school year, nearly 35,000 S.C. high school students are preparing for advance manufacturing jobs.

One of the many ways DEW supports this industry is through its Rapid Response program which uses a team of experts to implement a fast-paced business growth system and innovation tools to assist with employee retention that helps both the employer and employee receive assistance and retraining. Since 2011, 81 companies have benefited from Rapid Response services.

Additionally, South Carolina is one of the 10 original recipients of the Department of Defense (DOD) diversification grant in round I, meaning support and resources are available to help defense firms reduce their dependency on DOD contracts. As part of this program, businesses can apply for consulting services in four areas: strategic planning, sales and marketing, lean product development and quality certifications, lessening the impact stemming from potential federal defense cuts.

In the past year, 20 defense firms were provided diversification assistance, resulting in:

  • Retention of more than $421 million in sales.
  • Creation of more than $219 million in new sales.
  • Retention of 1,090 jobs while creating 450 new jobs.

These programs are not just for manufacturers, they can be applied to other businesses who may be at risk of layoffs or are wanting to diversify their companies. For more information about these programs, contact Michelle Paczynski

Aiken, Union counties receive work ready certification


Gov. Nikki Haley announced today that Aiken and Union counties have received certification through the South Carolina Work Ready Communities (SCWRC) initiative. Aiken and Union join the 42 other counties that have met the specified workforce and education goals.

South Carolina leads the nation with the most certified work ready communities, and continues to attract international business development due to its commitment to economic growth and a robust workforce pipeline.

“With Aiken and Union counties being named Certified Work Ready, we are only two counties away from reaching our goal of being the first state in the country to be fully certified. This is a testament of Team South Carolina’s hard work in making sure we have the most competitive business environment in the world for companies looking for a place to call home,” Gov. Haley said.

“We celebrate what this means for these counties and our state” said Cheryl M. Stanton, Executive Director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. “With the Work Ready initiative, and a continuing commitment to skilled workforce development, it is not surprising that employment numbers have been at historic highs over the last year, and companies continue to expand and choose South Carolina as the place to do business.”

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

A map of South Carolina’s 44 certified counties is available here.

For additional information, visit

Two groups receive apprenticeship grants for innovative workforce programs

The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Tri-County Technical College have been awarded apprenticeship grants from the State Workforce Development Board (SWDB), which made available $267,000 for innovative apprenticeship grant initiatives.

The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce received $119,000 to provide apprenticeships for youths with barriers to employment. As the managing partner of the regional consortia for the Workforce Academies Youth Apprenticeship Program, the chamber’s project would be to enroll, train and place an additional 200 youth apprentice students between April 2016 and May 2018. This grant will support 68 tuition and expense scholarships through the end of the grant period. The average summer earnings of an apprentice are $3,200.

Partnering with the Charleston chamber are IFA Rotorion, Trident Workforce Development Board (TWDB) and its Palmetto Youth Connections (PYC) and Education 2 Employment (E2E).

Tri-County Technical College (TCTC) received $148,000 to provide highway construction apprenticeships to unemployed ex-offenders. The program, Highway Construction Pathway for ex-offenders, will help individuals with criminal records and skill deficiencies find meaningful employment in highway construction entry-level jobs such as flagger, quality control technicians and CDL B dump truck drivers.

TCTC has partnered with Greenville Technical College, Piedmont Technical College and Spartanburg Community College. This collaborative group will align with South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department (SCVR) and the institutions’ Local Workforce Investment Boards (LWIBs)—Greenville County Workforce Development Board, Upper Savannah Workforce Investment Board, Upstate Workforce Investment Board, and WorkLink—as project partners.

Across industries, apprenticeships have proved to be effective because they benefit both the business community and the workforce. They are a focus of SWDB, which is the governor’s arm for economic development.

“We are pleased to partner with the Charleston Metro Chamber and Tri-County Tehnical College to help them provide opportunities to people who must overcome employment barriers every day. The State Workforce Board has placed an emphasis on the development of apprenticeship opportunities as they are a proven method of producing a highly skilled and productive workforce,” said Mikee Johnson, SWDB chairman and president of Cox Industries.  “All of this makes South Carolina an exceptional place to do business.”

“It is exciting to see what innovative apprenticeships are going on in our state to meet both the needs of our citizens and of our businesses,” said Cheryl Stanton, executive director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce and SWDB member. “By thinking beyond traditional apprenticeships, we are finding smart ways to bridge the gap between education and employment and helping industries grow and retain its workforce.”

OPE summits demonstrate benefits of hiring veterans

Businesses learned about the benefits of hiring veterans at the first of three Operation Palmetto Employment (OPE) summits that are being held across the state.

Employers, hiring managers, veteran employment representatives and military service members attended the first summit, held in the Midlands on April 14, and received information and insight into recruiting and retaining military hires through OPE, South Carolina’s military employment initiative.

Launched by Gov. Nikki Haley as a statewide military employment initiative, OPE partners with various state agencies, educators, workforce development representatives and others to streamline and increase the efficiency of the employment process for South Carolina’s military community and reduce duplicated efforts of service providers.

“Through the collaborative work of its partner agencies and organizations, OPE is a tool that employers can use to access South Carolina’s military talent,” said Lieutenant Colonel David Gayle, representing the South Carolina Military Department and the South Carolina National Guard.

The OPE Midlands Summits include cabinet agency and military installation briefs, employer success stories, roundtable discussions and professional development sessions designed to further connect and inform private sector employers and hiring managers, employment service representatives and government officials on the true value of military hires. As a statewide partnership, OPE serves military job seekers and the employers who hire them — at no cost to either.

“South Carolina’s unemployment rate for veterans is 4.4 percent,” said Darrell Scott, Chief of Staff at the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce. “This rate is below the national average of 4.9 percent, and below the state average of 5.5 percent.” Scott reported that more than 23,000 veterans received services in 2015, and more than 8,000 entered employment.”

OPE will host two more regional summits in May: the OPE Upstate Summit on Wednesday, May 4 at the Spartanburg Readiness Center at USC-Upstate, and the OPE Lowcountry Summit on Thursday, May 26 at Verizon Solutions Center in North Charleston. Seating is limited for both events; advance registration is required via

Click here to watch a feature by reporter Sonia Gutierrez of WLTX-News 19 in Columbia.

To learn more about Operation Palmetto Employment and connect with OPE representatives in your area, email or call 803-299-4019.

JAG students find career development more to do with development than career


A coach encourages a CHS athlete during a track and field event.

A group of Jobs for America’s Graduate (JAG) students in Clinton High School is carrying on a tradition of “everyone belongs” in a special way — literally.

As part of the JAG career-development program coordinated by the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, a friendship class was added to the curriculum five years ago to give CHS students an opportunity to “look for things that need to be changed,” according to their teacher, Nancy Wood. The JAG students at the Clinton, S.C. high school decided they wanted everyone to belong.

This year’s JAG class at CHS created one of their opportunities for success and growth in the cafeteria. When they noticed a group of Special Education students who regularly sat together at their own table, the JAG kids decided to find out more about them and get to know them. So, the students went to their JAG specialist and talked about how they could help create more opportunities for the Special Education students to be part of the traditional school life.

The two groups began to sit with each other at lunch, and twice a week the JAG students would act as peer mentors for their new friends during a common class period. As the relationships grew, the JAG group discovered that the Special Education students were preparing for the Special Olympics. From there, it was no longer about working to include a group of students in school life; it was all about athletic training. And it was this mission that led to the deeper connection of the kids.

Twice a week, and with Coach Anson Cunningham’s help, six student coaches and six student athletes got together during a free class period to train. They worked together as a group on stretching and strengthening, and they worked in pairs to refine the athletes’ sports of track and the softball throw.

On March 18, their training was put to the test at the Special Olympics Area 5 Spring Games. This group of friends traveled to Presbyterian College Stadium, six competed, six to coached and volunteered, and all to support each other.

The student coaches are Zion Anderson, Monisha Cheeks, Jordan Jackson, Monique Kennedy, Derricki Light and Whitney Swindler.

The national JAG programs focuses on job preparation activities such as identifying interests and skills, testing workplace competencies, and academic-success coaching. Administered in South Carolina by DEW, the JAG program prepares South Carolina’s youth to be “College and Career Ready.” Student, parents, teachers and communities work together to create new opportunities for success in school and on the job.

Here is how local businesses can get involved in JAG:

  • Speak in a classroom – represent your business or field of expertise.
  • Provide a job shadow or internship opportunity in your workplace.
  • Volunteer at a student event to facilitate workshops, run leadership activities, or be a competitive event judge at the annual Career Development Conference.
  • Spread the word about JAG to your friends, coworkers and business affiliates
  • Take a personal stake in the success of South Carolina’s students by making a financial donation to ensure that the programs and services continue into the future.


SC’s January Unemployment Situation

Employment Growth Continues, Unemployment Rate Remains Unchanged

South Carolina’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in January remained unchanged at 5.5 percent from December 2015. However, the number of people working increased by 10,853, setting a new record of 2,149,850.

The state’s labor force increased by 11,070 to 2,274,500 people. Unemployment rose slightly by 217 people from December to January, bringing the number of unemployed to 124,650.

Since January 2015, employment gains totaled 50,114, and the level of the unemployed decreased by 22,128 people. Also over the past year, the labor force has grown by 27,986.

Nationally, January’s unemployment rate was 4.9 percent.

Read the full report employment here.


Business service teams help find qualified employees

McLeod Health, one of the Pee Dee’s largest employers, recently needed to fill several entry level positions in its Pee Dee facilities.

The health service provider, which serves more than one million residents in the Northeast region of South Carolina and Southeast region of North Carolina, teamed up with the Pee Dee Local Workforce Development Area (LWDA) to recruit, screen and refer eligible applicants to fill those positions.

The Pee Dee LWDA Business Services Team got to work identifying the skills and skill level requirements of the available positions and to ensure that the best quality referrals are made. They piloted the WorkKeys’ profiling of four entry level positions, Medical Service Technician, Environmental Services Technician, Nutrition Services Associate 3 and Certified Medical Assistant.

After several months of planning and establishing protocols, the team began referring job seekers in December 2015 and as of Feb. 1, 2016, approximately 50 referrals have been made and at least 7 individuals have been hired.

The LWDA provides candidate screening and matching services to help identify qualified candidates. It also offers assessments of potential job applicants to help ensure they possess the skills to do the job.

Assessments such as WorkKeys measure basic skills as well as a candidate’s communication, problem solving and interpersonal skills. There is also the WorkKeys job profiling assessment that helps businesses understand the skills required for specific positions.

Click here to find an LWDA near you.

Mullet Door opens opportunities with On-the-Job Training program

When Jeff Davis, manager of Mullet Door in Abbeville, heard about the On-the-Job Training program available through SCWorks, he was interested. The problem was he didn’t have an opening.

A few months later, however, Davis called Upper Savannah Business Services Representative, Willie Forrest, telling him that he had an available position and wanted to use the OJT program at the Abbeville facility. Within days, Davis received several resumes from Forrest and eventually hired a candidate who had recently been dislocated from another job.

About a month later, another hiring need arose. Once again, Davis used the OJT program and hired an out-of-school youth for the job. Throughout the course of several months, Davis hired a total of four people in through the OJT program.

OJT is a federal program funded by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that lets a business hire and train skilled workers and then reimburses them for the cost of training workers who have the ability to do the job but lack the practical hands-on experience.

Employers benefit from more efficient recruiting, more targeted training and assistance with training expenses. Other benefits include:

  • OJT specialists help find the right talent when you need it, reducing time, effort, and money spent on recruiting.
  • OJT helps train the right workers to meet the businesses requirements.
  • Businesses receive between 50% and 75% of the costs to provide on-the-job training for individuals hired (reimbursement depends on the size of the business).

Those employees eligible for this program include youth, the unemployed or underemployed, laid-off workers and homemakers re-entering the workforce.

Davis said that the productivity of the people who have gone through this program is better than those who is now a champion for the program and is encouraging other businesses in his Abbeville area to participate in OJT as well. This has resulted in OJT placements at several other businesses.