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Chamber Buzz: SC Unemployment Hits Lowest Rate in 15 Years

SC Unemployment Rate Hits Lowest Level in 15 Years… The Department of Employment and Workforce announced September’s unemployment rate was 4.9 percent.  That is the lowest number our state has seen since April 2001. The agency says the number of South Carolinians working in September rose to an all-time high, at more than 2.1 million.  Meanwhile, the national unemployment average is a bit higher at 5 percent.  To read more on the report from DEW click here.

Pension Problems…The Joint Committee on Pension Systems Review met twice this week to hear presentations from agency auditors and experts from the Reason Foundation, National Conference of State Legislatures, and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The Committee was told the state’s unfunded pension debt could be as high as $40 billion, with the biggest contribution to the debt being unfunded benefits increases, underperforming investments and insufficient annual contributions. Senator Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson), Co-Chair of the Committee, stated that the panel will start deciding on proposed solutions in November.

Workforce Efforts: Getting Former Inmates to Work… Governor Nikki Haley along with SCDEW and the S.C. Department of Corrections announced the expansion of a pilot program called Second Chance, aimed at getting recently-released inmates into the workforce.  Haley said many inmates can not find work after they get released and that can lead to falling into old habits. The Second Chance Program will give inmates training in various areas while working directly with companies willing to hire them. To learn more on how to become an employer in the Second Chance Program click here.

Centers Open to Help Recovery…FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration continue to staff Disaster and  Business Recovery Centers to get people back on their feet after the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew.  The centers provide one on one help with FEMA applications and answer any questions you may have about what aid is available to you. To find the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center closest to you, click here

For business assistance only right now there are centers at : Hilton Head- Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce, and the Small Business Development Center in Orangeburg. SBA Loan applications can be downloaded from www.sba.gov. 

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Dec. 13, 2016.  The deadline to return economic injury applications is July 12, 2017.

Does Your Business Have a Continuity Plan in case of an Emergency? The South Carolina Emergency Management Division & S.C. Department of Commerce held an SC Business Emergency Preparedness Seminar Wednesday in West Columbia.  S.C. Chamber CEO Ted Pitts spoke about the importance of public private partnerships in emergency response situations to get business. This was the first meeting of its kind to try and improve public/private partnerships for economic and business recovery in the event of a natural disaster.

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