Anderson Co. sees spike in initial unemployment claims week after Christmas; despite healthy economy

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ANDERSON COUNTY, SC (WSPA)– Anderson County said a spike in initial unemployment claims does not reflect a slowing economy. The week after Christmas, they had triple the number of unemployment claims when compared to larger counties like Greenville.

Anderson County Economic Development staff said they have no direct indicator showing those who’ve permanently lost their jobs verses those who reported back to work the following week. However, the county does believe a big majority of those who filed are not jobless.

South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce reports 2,351 people filed for initial unemployment claims between December 27 and January 2.

“Well, we’re certainly concerned about the number, but we have checked enough…and have good enough communication with our industries that we know there’s not been a large layoff anywhere through the 215-220 companies we have in Anderson County,” said Burriss Nelson, Director for Anderson County Economic Development. “We believe that it’s an anomaly. We don’t think that we’ve got 2,300 people that have been laid off anywhere in Anderson County,” Nelson said.

In fact, Anderson County Economic Development staff believes most of the more than 2,300 people are still on their employer’s payroll. So, where are these numbers coming from?

“We assume they the individuals that a company files for them, or even a certain number of individuals have filed for unemployment during that week. So, if a company like our large employers, our manufacturing employers a lot of them, and we know this, that typically that they take the week before or after Christmas off, and shut down the plant for maintenance, for planned maintenance, or just to give everybody a break at the end of the year,” said Teri Gilstrap, Workforce Development & Existing Industry Manager for Anderson County Economic Development.

Gilstrap said this did happen within several industries the week after Christmas, and when this does happen, people or employers as a whole, can file unemployment claims while out.

“We have checked with all of our sources. We’ve checked with the SC Works Center to see what traffic they’ve seen. We’ve talked to a lot of area employers and we know that some shutdown for that week of Christmas, but we have no way of knowing what each of those 2,300 were. But, we’re making the assumption that it was just a combination of all the employers that filed for the week after Christmas,” Gilstrap said.

Overall, Anderson County said their economy is very healthy.

“We have had some impact of COVID, but we really in all the conversations that we had with area employers, we are confident that most of our employers are really in great shape and still producing,” Gilstrap said.

The county also adds that many jobs are open now, and more will become available in the future.

“Bottom line, jobs are here. We’ve got jobs for people, so if somebody’s looking for a job, come to Anderson and ask questions. We can put people to work,” Nelson said.

“We feel like in everything that we have heard from the local employers is that our future looks very bright and that there’s a lot of job openings that are available and are coming available in our future,” Gilstrap said.

Anderson County Economic Development representatives recommend that anyone looking for a job, utilizes SC Works centers in the area. They said you can upload your resume and be connected with the many jobs that are available.

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