By Stan Welch
Even as the state of South Carolina continues to attract industry and create jobs at one of the highest rates in the country, Anderson County is doing so at a significantly faster clip.
Anderson County’s economic numbers showed tremendous gains in February according to a report released today by the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW). The Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) report issued by SCDEW measured Anderson County’s February2014 unemployment rate at 4.5%.
In the past 12 months labor force participation has increased by more than 800, and the number of employed persons has grown by more than 3,400. The local unemployment rate for February of last year measured 7.6%.
“I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to see these numbers. The success we’re having reflects a true team effort from my fellow councilmembers, county administration, the Economic Development Office, the entire county staff, and all of our partner institutions”, said Anderson County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn. “We have had long-term support for our economic development strategy, and we are now seeing these efforts pay huge dividends.”
The SCDEW report showed that 82,431 Anderson residents were employed in February, an increase of 981 from January. The number of employed Andersonians has increased by more than 9,000 since January of 2010, when employment reached its recession-era low of 73,220. In addition, labor force participation remained stable during February. In February and January approximately 86,300 residents were counted in the labor force.
One aspect of Anderson County’s economic development efforts is its emphasis on existing and smaller businesses. The Economic Development team isn’t always looking for the home run ball; but realizes that when existing companies expand here, instead of relocating, not only are new jobs created, but existing jobs are retained.
For example, since 2011, expansions of existing businesses, such as Michelin (100 jobs created, $200M invested; Orian, 125 jobs, $13M invested; Frankische, 100 jobs, $10M invested; Watson Engineering, 85 jobs, $6.4 M invested; Plastic Omnium, 75 jobs, $11.5 M invested) have produced a total of 743 new jobs; while retaining thousands of existing jobs, and generating capital investments totaling $277,000,000.
The number of residents reported as unemployed in February dropped to 3,895 according to the report. In January, the number of unemployed persons was measured at 4,881. This continues an observed trend of falling numbers of unemployed persons locally. The local unemployment number peaked at 11,578 in February 2010.
Statewide, the unemployment rate decreased to 5.7% in February from 6.4% in January.