Improvement in employment figures may be misleading

Myrtle Beach, SC - By Brandon Herring - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – South Carolina's unemployment rate fell to 11 percent in May, but the numbers may not continue to fall for too much longer.

This rate is an improvement from May of last year, which was at a 11.5 percent unemployment rate.

In one year, the number of jobs increased by 9,100 and in the last four months, those numbers have been getting better each month.

Horry County was one place that saw a decline, bringing the jobless rate down to 10.7 percent.

This good news for workers, but this good news may not last long.

According to a new report from Economist Don Schunk at Coastal Carolina University, many of the jobs have come from the 2010 Census. Secondly, here along the Grand Strand, many of the new jobs have come from seasonal work.

Phillip's Seafood Restaurant has certainly seen the effects when it comes to seasonal workers. Gwen Green started working at Phillip's about a month ago. Before May, she had been out of work for about two years.  Of the thousands of jobs South Carolina gained in the last year, Green was one of them.

"Anything is better than nothing," Green said. "So I was happy to find something to be working."

Phillip's Seafood hires about 80 employees during the busy season and about 65 of those stay for the entirety of the summer. The Marketing Director for Phillips Seafood, Michelle Torres, said they do their best to keep workers busy, but the slowdown is unavoidable.

"What we end up doing is keeping employees as long as we can, and basically as business slows down, unfortunately, they'll find other jobs or they'll collect unemployment," Torres said.

Sherry Estanich has been coming back every year to work at Phillips since it opened in 2003. She says it is a tough reality for some workers.

"It's only seasonal and that's the sad part of it because I love my job," Estanich explained. "In the winter time, I look for other positions, but it's really hard because there are other people that do what I do that have jobs that are not seasonal."

Once those temporary employees have to be let go, Estanich says she gives them any bit of help she can.

"You know you go through the workforce center," Estanich said. "I help people toward the end of the season, give them their contact number and show them how to go online so they can ask for partial benefits or full benefits once everything totally dries up,"

For the time being, Green is focused on just having a job instead of the possibility that it may not last. On the flip side, Estanich is already looking toward the fall.

"In our area it just seems like less and less places to look to find an opportunity to work, but you keep on looking," Estanich said.  "That's what you do."

According to Schunk's report, this upcoming fall is still a big concern for workers. Jobs in the private sector continue to decrease. Jobs need to rise by the thousands to fill the gap when the Census jobs end.

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