Midlands officials optimistic as unemployment drops again - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Midlands officials optimistic as unemployment drops for 2nd straight month

By Jack Kuenzie - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - For the second straight month, South Carolina's unemployment rate has dropped. It's now well under 11 percent. As unemployment continues to plunge, there's more optimism for the state's economic future.

If there's any place in the Midlands and maybe the state where it looks like the recession is truly over, it is the 12th Street extension in Cayce.

Already home to the sprawling new SCANA campus, the area is said to be under consideration by an as-yet-unnamed company for a facility that could generate 1,000 jobs or more.

"All the signs are there," said Todd Cullum of the Lexington County Council. "There are still some discussions going on. But we feel confident that if we get to the point where there can be a public statement made as to the probability, that I think it's a really good chance of taking place."

If the project becomes reality, it will be another major boost for a county that already has an unemployment rate of 7.6 percent, the state's lowest.

West Metro Chamber of Commerce President Gregg Pinner says quality of life has plenty to do with Lexington County's success in job creation. "I think the school systems here are very nice," said Pinner. "We've got many outdoor recreational features like Lake Murray and the river and so forth like that. I think lower taxes and schools like I mentioned are better. I just think people are wanting to work and live in Lexington County."

Statewide, unemployment has dropped to 10.7 percent, down by three tenths. One big reason is 2,700 more jobs in construction, followed by significant gains in manufacturing, retail, professional, education and health.

"Most of the economists will tell you that if you start seeing an increase in construction and manufacturing area, then that's a pretty good sign," said Clark Newsom of the Department of Employment and Workforce. "And that's exactly what we've seen. Construction jobs around the state, manufacturing as well."

On the other end of the employment spectrum, we still have a half dozen counties with jobless rates over the 15 percent mark. But most of them are seeing lower numbers. Marion, with the state's highest rate at 17.8 percent, is still down eight tenths compared to the previous month.
     
A couple of counties, Marlboro and York, cut unemployment more than two percent in the space of one month.

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