Tracking the economic impact of Hurricane Matthew

Tracking the economic impact of Hurricane Matthew

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A WMBF News Investigation found which industries in the Grand Strand and Pee Dee areas of South Carolina could suffer most during and after a disaster. It's based on what percentage of the workforces makes up that industry, compared to the national average.

The investigation looked into which industries in each local county would be most affected by Hurricane Matthew, based on the Location Quotient, or LQ, of each industry. If an LQ is equal to one, then the industry has the same share of its area employment as it does in the nation. An LQ greater than one indicates an industry with a greater share of the local area employment than is the case nationwide, according to David Hiles of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For example, tobacco farming has an LQ of 15.03 in Horry County, which means there are 15.03 times more tobacco farmers in Horry County than the national average.

Cotton Farming – Marlboro County

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says cotton farmers make up the Marlboro County workforce at a rate more than 50 times greater than the national average. Hurricane Matthew came at the absolutely worst time for cotton farmers, according to Frank Rogers.

Rogers is on the South Carolina Cotton Board and farms in the county. He says farmers there lost anywhere between 10 and 50 percent of their crop, and heavy rain lowered the quality of what was salvaged. That means less money for the harvest.

Tobacco Farming – Horry and Marion Counties

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows tobacco farming is the top industry in Horry County in terms of employees against the national average. The percentage of tobacco farmers in Marion County is more than 100 times the national average. Katheryn Dee Ann Rabon farms tobacco in Loris with her father, and she's on the South Carolina Tobacco Board.

Rabon says she sold all of her remaining tobacco the Wednesday before the storm. She called 2016 a fair season and famers will start to prepare the fields for next year in February.

Golf – Horry County

The percentage of golf course employees in Horry County outnumbers the national average by seven times. It's good and bad news, according to Chris King with Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday. One of two yearly peaks happens around the first weekend in October. That means the storm left a full weekend without golfers at a prime rate. Empty tee sheets for one weekend mean a short-term financial hit, but course managers know their business is dependent on the weather.

Nice days after the storm helped many courses get cleaned up and back in business with the high-dollar season lasting into the middle of November.

Siding Contractors – Horry County

Contractors are busy after a storm like this, and Horry County's percentage of siding contractors outpace the national average by five times. Will McCourt with Contract Exteriors says planning started the week leading up to the storm in order to make sure staffing was available for the weeks after. His business prioritizes the needs of homeowners based on severity, with the goal of preserving life and property.

He says it's difficult as a local to see people's lives turned upside down. He expects his crews to be very busy for a long time.

Logging – Florence and Marion Counties

The logging industry sits near the top for both Florence and Marion counties. Eddie Baker, the hardwood manager at Canal Wood in Mullins, says much of it is at a standstill right now locally. Flooded rivers mean crews can't do anything here in terms of hardwood like oak, ash, maple and cyprus. These trees grow in rivers and swamps.

The equipment that could be pulled from the river has been moved out of the area. Baker says the hope is to get back to work locally by Thanksgiving, but some areas might not be ready until April.

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