Employers scramble to hire workers
South Carolina’s workforce director is stepping down as unemployment in the Palmetto State hit another low in October.
S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster announced Monday the resignation of Cheryl Stanton, executive director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, effective Dec. 7.
“Under her leadership for over five years, the men and women at DEW have made great strides in training the next generation of South Carolina’s workforce and making our state an attractive place for economic investment,” McMaster said in a statement.
Stanton was appointed to the position in May 2013 by then-Gov. Nikki Haley and led the agency during a period of record low unemployment. The state’s jobless rate dropped from 8.1 percent in June 2013 to 3.3 percent in October, the lowest it has been in at least 50 years.
More than 2.2 million South Carolinians — a record — now are working across the state.
Since October 2017, the number of employed South Carolinians has increased by more than 9,500, while the labor force declined by 12,162 and the number of unemployed fell by more than 21,700, according to the latest DEW data.
While South Carolina’s jobless rate has dipped below the national average of 3.7 percent, critics argue the state’s labor participation rate — the percentage of eligible workers actually in the workforce — has decreased, income growth has been sluggish and employers have struggled to find skilled workers.
However, DEW has cut unemployment tax rates for six consecutive years, saving businesses nearly $1 billion, while rebuilding the unemployment insurance trust fund, according to the governor’s office.
In October, McMaster and Stanton announced the state was cutting the 2019 unemployment tax rates for businesses by an average of 18.8 percent. McMaster attributed that cut to the state’s growing economy and falling unemployment.
During the last recession, South Carolina had to borrow nearly $1 billion from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits. DEW paid off that loan in 2015, after which the Legislature required the agency to rebuild the trust fund within five years to cover potential future benefit costs. The agency is in the fourth year of that effort.
Stanton, who could not immediately be reached for comment Monday evening, said in a statement the time came for her to “move on to new opportunities.”
“I will always remain grateful for the opportunity, and I am happy to leave the agency with outstanding leadership in place,” Stanton said in her statement.
Jamie Suber, assistant executive director of the agency’s Unemployment Insurance Division, was named acting director, according to the governor’s office.
McMaster said he looks forward to working with industry leaders and members of the General Assembly to find a new director.