By Senator Kent Williams
I was ecstatic to learn that the unemployment rate for all of Senate District 30 is below 3%. Marion County hit an all-time record low of 2.7%. Dillon County’s unemployment rate is also down to 2.7% while Marlboro County’s rate is 2.8%. Horry County’s unemployment rate is now 2% and Florence County’s rate is now 1.9%. This shows that our area is making tremendous progress. Especially, when you consider that Marion County’s unemployment rate was 20.4% in 2009.
This success is due to the efforts and cooperation of our local governing bodies. They have diligently worked with the business communities and the state to diversify the industry in our area. With these efforts, our area has moved from focused on textile and tobacco to new industry and technology. This has broadened employment options for everyone in our area. However, I would be remiss if I did not also give credit to the Dillon Inland Port.
Recently, the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business conducted a study of S.C. Ports. This study found that S.C. Ports make a $7.1 billion annual economic impact in the Pee Dee and create 25,000 jobs in the region. The study also found that port and port-related jobs pay 32% higher than the state average income.
The Dillon Inland Port has truly been a blessing to our area. However, it is important to note that the unemployment rate does not include those that are unemployed and not in the system. Even though the rates are at a record low, there are still folks that are unemployed and are unable to find a job. These folks are either over qualified or lack certificates or training in specific skill sets.
Even with these lower unemployment rates, we still have people in our area who are underemployed and those that are no longer seeking employment. We have folks that have become discouraged and we have to figure out a way to get them back in the workforce. This is where our local governments can continue to improve our areas workforce. We can continue to build a more successful economic development environment in our area but we must first build successful workforce development for our friends and neighbors.
We need to continue to enhance and pool together local resources that will help our community to access career planning tools, as well as the basic skills, technology skills, and other educational courses they will need. By doing this our local governments will continue to successfully attract businesses to our area.
As with all matters concerning state government, I want to hear your opinions and suggestions concerning these issues. Please contact me in my Columbia office located at 608 Gressette Office Building. You can reach me, or a member of my staff in Columbia at (803) 212-6000 or by fax at (803) 212-6011 My district office is located at 2523 East Highway 76, Marion, SC 29571, the phone number is (843) 423-8237 and the fax number is (843) 431-6049. You may also email me at [email protected] My business phone is (843) 423-3904. Please use this information to write, call or email me with your suggestions and concerns regarding issues before the Senate and in our community.
By Senator Kent Williams