Unemployment in Context by Caroline a. warner

It’s oftentimes hard to contextualize time. When you hear, “unemployment dropped to a 15-year low,” it can easily fail to connect. But take a second, think about where you were 15 years ago.

Dabo Swinney was selling real estate in Alabama.

Steve Spurrier was still coaching the University of Florida Gators.

The first Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, was breaking box office records.

Gas was $1.41 per gallon.

Oconee County, South Carolina was experiencing record low unemployment… until December of 2016.

While Oconee County started 2016 with an unemployment rate of 5.9%, as of December 31, 2016, that number dropped 1.8% to a 15-year low of 4.1%. At the end of 2016, Oconee County had 33,978 citizens employed. This is the highest number employed in the history of our county. Let that sink in, more Oconee County residents are working than ever before!

Since January 1, 2016, the number employed grew from 32,700 to 33,978. That shows 1,278 more Oconee citizens working and that means roughly 106 people per month were added to payrolls over the last 12 months.

So take a moment and let that sink in. Oconee is hovering around unemployment rates that have not been this low in 15 years and inversely, Oconee County has more citizens working than at any point in our history. This is to be celebrated!

While you’re celebrating, remember- there is still more to do. The county is still growing and more good things are in store for our community. There are still jobs to be filled as seen by hiring events just this week with BorgWarner, GreenTech recycling and even Lowe’s in Seneca.

Your Oconee Economic Alliance will continue to create awareness and opportunities for our county. But with these opportunities comes a responsibility to ensure our workers have the skills in place for these jobs. So the continued emphasis on workforce development is critical.

Let’s all pledge to continue to work to ensure the citizens of Oconee County have the skills necessary and the jobs available. If we do that, the best days for Oconee County are in front of us.

Originally posted at www.InvestOconeeSC.com.

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