MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - A record number of nearly 2.3 million workers were employed in South Carolina in August, pushing the jobless figure back down to a historic low of 3.2 percent, according to South Carolina's Department of Employment and Workforce.
Experts said coastal cities like Myrtle Beach have seen the strongest employment gains over the last year. They noted that Horry County reaching a 3.1 percent unemployment rate in August is a huge accomplishment.
With the Grand Strand being a tourist-driven market, the hospitality industry is at the forefront.
Tina Donnelly, a hospitality professor at Horry Georgetown Technical College, said the push for being more of a year-round destination rather than just a seasonal one shows in the numbers.
Donnelly said more branded hotels and restaurants are coming to the Grand Strand, making the area a more attractive destination at any time of the year. Plus, it helps bring in more jobs.
Myrtle Beach has both a growing retirement and millennial population, which Donnelly said are both great for different reasons.
She points out the aging population brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, and most are looking for part-time jobs. However, the younger population is searching for full-time work. Many are starting at entry-level positions with the opportunity to move up.
Donnelly said the combination of both young and aging employees can be a powerful asset to the hospitality industry as a whole. With the record high, she expects to see even more growth in the future.
“For the next five to 10 years, immediately, I'd love to see the downtown develop. That would be a big attraction for the city of Myrtle Beach, really just upgrading and updating and I know the city is working on that," Donnelly said.
She added that HGTC partners with local hospitality industry leaders to provide students hands-on opportunities in the hopes of encouraging them to stay in the Grand Strand after graduating to pursue their careers in the growing hospitality industry.