SC unemployment hits 10.4 percent in January

By: Gene Petriello Email
By: Gene Petriello Email

March 11, 2009

AIKEN, S.C. --- Tonight, South Carolina finds itself with the 2nd highest unemployment rate at 10.4 percent in the country. That's got a lot of people frustrated but they're out there looking for those jobs.

Every generation is filling out applications standing in line at the Aiken One Stop Office.

"I rather be elsewhere doing something totally different," says Muriel Fitzgibbon.

"It's been hard going from place to place they are not hiring," says Rashad Odom.

The common link between those two and others, they are all looking for a job and some people like mom Markesha Cullum have been looking for a long time.

"It's crazy there are so many people here and the wait is so long," says Cullum.

There's good reason for it too. South Carolina's January unemployment rate is 10.4%, up from 8.8% in December.

"I can believe it but I think it's more," says Cullum. "I think it's higher."

"It makes me want to find a job even more, even more," says Odom.

"I think we haven't seen the summit yet," says Fitzgibbon.

But, there is some hope. Fingers are crossed some of President Barack Obama's stimulus money for SRS will soon mean 3,000 new jobs there.

The downside, Governor Mark Sanford decided on Wednesday to ask The White House to allow him to use nearly $700 million from the stimulus for the state's debt, not saving or creating jobs.

"It doesn't make sense to spend money that we don't have," says Gov. Sanford.

Back at the unemployment office, Markesha hits the computers, knowing that she simply cannot give up. "I don't like to be here," she says. "If I can avoid it, I would. But, I have to pay my bills."

South Carolina is getting $2.8 billion from the stimulus bill, but Gov. Sanford only has control over $700 million. This all comes as the South Carolina House passed the plan for next years’ budget to use $1 billion from the stimulus bill for part of their $6.6 billion budget for things like education and healthcare.


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