While South Carolina’s unemployment rate is at its lowest point in about 40 years, the state trails the nation in working women, and that makes for a giant opportunity for an untapped talent pool. To illustrate how far South Carolina trails the country in rates of working women – it’s estimated nearly one-third of women Palmetto State women lack employment – all the state must do is match the nation’s rate of working women and 38,000 jobs would be added. Widening employee benefits such as maternity leave, more affordable child care, flexible schedules and occasional telecommuting would attract more women into the workforce, according to women’s advocates and hiring experts, and gains by women participating in the workplace historically have helped men. About two-thirds of S.C.’s minimum-wage jobs are performed by women — South Carolina is one of five states with no minimum wage law separate from the Federal mandate of $7.25 per hour – and at that pay rate, childcare costs are a substantial burden. At the economy’s national level, more steps to balance the workforce would result in South Carolina reaping among the greatest benefits of all states – there’s room to grow by about $31 billion by 2025, which is better than S.C’s past five years of growth.
Element Electronics’ plant in Winnsboro will close, with 126 job layoffs on the way, and “is a result of the new tariffs that were recently and unexpectedly imposed on many goods imported from China, including the key television components used in our assembly operations,” according to a company letter to the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce obtained by The State newspaper. In the past year, the rural county of Fairfield lost 5,000 construction jobs with the shutdown of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station, as well as 200 jobs when DuraFiber, the county’s last textile mill, closed; two years ago, Walmart left. “When you think you’ve reached rock bottom, to get kicked in the gut like this, you didn’t think anything more could happen,” state Sen. Mike Fanning, D-Fairfield, said.
Sales tax collection guidance is expected soon from the SC Department of Revenue in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding out-of-state online retailers. Among the details are an expected exemption for small sellers that could mean about $30 million won’t be collected.
The GSA Business Report talked to business leaders in Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson counties about the challenges as the Upstate pivots from its textile heritage to diverse manufacturing and industry efforts. Among the topics: Greenville County does not have as big an undeveloped geographical footprint as Spartanburg and Anderson counties to attract industry; and Anderson County plays to its strength of promoting its existing industry base and has big plans for its upcoming technical high school. “Since BMW came here (to Spartanburg County), we’ve had $17 billion invested in our county. Those 25,000 textile jobs that we lost, we replaced with 55,000 jobs,” Spartanburg County Council economic development committee chairman David Britt said.