SC unemployment rate dipping as thousands of jobs remain unfilled

South Carolina News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Thousands of South Carolina jobs remain unfilled as less and less people file for unemployment.

This week, the SC Department of Employment and Workforce reports just around 2,500 new unemployment claims filed. This is a huge drop from the 87,000 South Carolinians who filed for unemployment in April of 2020.

Earlier this month, Governor Henry McMaster decided to cancel all unemployment programs related to COVID-19 to try and motivate people to get back into the workforce.

Economics professor Frank Hefner says these Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) programs are really designed as a safety net instead of a long-term solution.

“If you cut back on the unemployment benefits, the thought process, and its not observed yet because it hasn’t happened, would be that people would jump back into the workforce and we don’t know that for sure,” says Hefner.

Hefner says the Governor’s approach is called a “stick approach.”

“The concept of incentivizing them by removing those [unemployment benefits] — that’s more of a stick approach. Some states have thought to take a carrot approach which is — offering signing bonuses for a lot of these jobs to get people back into the workforce. And that’s a whole different approach.”

At the same time, thousands of jobs remain open in the state. For the Food and Beverage industry, these positions need to be filled as soon as possible.

 “The good and bad is that the consumer is ready to be out and about again — which is great. But the staffing isn’t there.”

Perry Freeman, Charleston Sports Pub

Perry Freeman is the owner of Charleston Sports Pub. He says some of his friends in the industry have had to cut back on hours because of their staffing issues, but they have had to get competitive with salaries.

“We’re paying wages that I’ve never seen before in my 20 years in this business and we still can’t find qualified candidates,” says Freeman.

Experts say there are still a lot of questions as to why people are not returning to work. Hefner believes more data will need to be released to see if McMaster’s “stick approach” will be effective at curbing the unemployment numbers long-term.

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