Weak state workforce gets closer scrutiny | News

The findings of the South Carolina Labor Force Participation Task Force (LFPTF) have been released. Findings from two research reports offer possible reasons and solutions for the low rate of participation in the state workforce.

In a statement released by the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW), the LFPTF held its fifth meeting on Dec. 9.

The task force, which first met on March 23, 2022, is comprised of diverse leaders from academia, research and business. They have come together to analyze available data and commission two multi-faceted analyzes of South Carolina’s labor market, according to the release.

The goal was to determine why the state has such a low labor force participation rate; only 56.4% of eligible adults were working or looking for work in November, the fourth lowest figure in the country, compared to 62.1% nationally, according to the announcement.

DEW said the first project conducted by Millan Chicago LLC was a survey of people who dropped out of Unemployment Insurance (UI) employment and wage records, administered by the Department of Employment and SC workforce during the pandemic. Specifically, these individuals appeared in the data in 2019, applied for unemployment insurance benefits in 2020, and were not present in the data in 2021.

The announcement said the investigation was aimed at understanding what happened to this population of more than 150,000 people; specifically, the task force wanted to know how many of these people had left the labor force, how many might be interested in returning.

The survey also attempted to narrow down the employment barriers people face and what might motivate them to join the job market in the state. DEW said in the announcement that more than 6,000 people eventually responded to the survey.

“The survey was able to determine that 46% of respondents work in some capacity, which makes sense since contractors and sole proprietors, among other types of work, are not included in the insurance payroll records. unemployment from our agency,” the SC Department of Employment said. and Director of Labor Market Information (DEW) and LFPTF member, Dr. Bryan Grady.

“A further 26% said they were not interested in work because they were retired, studying, nursing or had health problems. That leaves 28% of respondents who are not working but indicated that they could.The survey results showed that the biggest barriers preventing individuals from re-entering the labor market are low-paying jobs, poor health and disability, gaps in work history and lack of reliable transportation and childcare,” he said in the statement.

DEW announced in the media that a second project, led by Chmura Economics and Analytics, conducted large-scale analysis to identify the causes of the state’s low labor force participation rate.

One of the problems, it was determined, is that the population is aging.

“Between 1994 and 2019, the share of our state’s population aged 65 or older nearly doubled. This fact alone explains most of the decline in South Carolina’s labor force participation rate during this period,” said Erica Von Nessen, a labor and employment research economist and member of the LFPTF.

However, Chmura’s analysis also identified other causes in the academic literature and potential policies for integrating people into the labor market, such as ensuring that people with disabilities receive the accommodations they need to have a paid employment, according to the statement.

Both projects were initiated by the task force, with support and planning from DEW and the SC Council on Competitiveness.

“Our agency has a strong focus on re-employment in the state,” said DEW Executive Director Dan Ellzey. “While anyone can access SC Works online services to find statewide jobs that meet their specific needs, including salary requirements and remote work opportunities, SC Works centers applicants assistance employment with the barriers to work identified in this research.”

“Professionals at these centers can help individuals network with employers, conduct skills assessments, write resumes and conduct interviews, and even provide help with childcare or to transportation. We cannot stress enough the importance of knowledge and accessibility when it comes to the job market,” he said.

In a separate announcement, DEW says job demand is high and there are more than enough opportunities to meet the diverse needs of South Carolina residents.

In October this year, there were 168,000 job openings based on the United States Bureau of Labor’s statistical report, according to the announcement. At the same time, there were 107,000 job postings on the SC Works online services website.

DEW officials said that whether a young person entering the workforce for the first time looking for part-time work or an experienced worker looking for a career change, the next job is here.

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