Orangeburg County hit hard by South Carolina's skyrocketing jobless rate

Published: May. 27, 2020 at 1:17 PM EDT
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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina is grappling with record unemployment, and Orangeburg County has been hit hard.

The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce’s April 2020 report states that 288,022 people are unemployed, translating to a 12.1 percent unemployment rate.

Orangeburg County has the 10th highest unemployment rate in the state at 13.3 percent, leading all counties in the Midlands.

Its unemployment rate nearly tripled from 4.8 percent unemployment in March 2020.


The main industry in the county is manufacturing, Gregg Robinson, the executive director of the Orangeburg County Development Commission, said. He questions whether recent business re-openings would drastically change the statistics.

“Where you’re going to see a lot of the retail positions come back faster, we just don’t have the number of retail,” he explained.

He said the county manufacturers have been hurt by global supply chains, and they will be reliant on international partners opening up safely and quickly.

In the mean time, he said the companies are feeling the crunch. He cited two industries declining to renew their leases in their current buildings.

He declined to go into specifics on which companies would be leaving, but did state his office is waiting to make three announcements about new projects.

“Even if a company goes out, we will find another company that’s equally as strong if not better,” he said. “And we will bring them to that location and show them the skill sets that we offer.”

He said businesses are adapting to the situation.

In Orangeburg, House of Pizza Catering and Beverage Director Jan Fogle said the business rolled out new curbside and delivery services.

She said customer demand has allowed the restaurant to bring back its staff of almost 45 people.

“The loyalty of our customers and the staff’s hard work [made] it happen. Even some days when our nerves are past the point of being shot, it’s very stressful,” she said.

The next unemployment report for the state is scheduled to be released June 19.

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