‘Jobs’ numbers are staggering
Kudos to the Fort Mill Times for including the opposing viewpoints of Sen. Vincent Sheheen in an article that seems to shed angelic light on Gov. Nikki Haley. But the senator needs to make some changes in his campaign strategy, as the comments provided by his office did him no service by being so vague and uninformative.
The comments gave me the impression that he couldn’t come up with anything significant to say, which is a shame as I’m sure he can. The entire “jobs” article is filled with actual data; specific numbers of jobs created, how many acres will be developed, how many dollars will be invested in South Carolina, and dates for the construction projects. You can’t help but realize that this good news is real and imminent, having a direct impact on our local life and economy.
Then you read the senator’s comments containing vague accusations but no specifics, seemingly designed to stir an emotional response but not really to inform. It was such a letdown. Then I became curious, causing me to go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website (bls.gov) to look up the “staggering numbers” he referred to. Wow, the numbers really are staggering, but not what I expected after reading his comments. At the beginning of Haley’s term, the state’s unemployment rate was 10.5 percent and the workforce consisted of 2.170 million workers. The latest numbers from April show 5.3 percent unemployment and 2.165 million in the workforce.
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So, after three years of Haley we have dropped the unemployment rate in half, but at the cost of losing 5,000 workers. That’s a 50 percent reduction in unemployment and a 0.23 percent decrease in the number of people looking for work. That “staggering” depletion of the workforce doesn’t seem so significant now, does it? OK, let’s see if there isn’t another way to look at the numbers to make the senator’s comments more meaningful. How would it change the unemployment rate if we counted those people who have given up looking for work? If you add in those 5,000 ex-workers and do the math based on the BLC website numbers, the current unemployment rate of 5.27 percent would go up to 5.28 percent.
Is that all? Gee, maybe Sen. Sheheen has a point after all: no matter how you look at it, the state’s employment statistics under Governor Haley really are staggering.