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Lowcountry businesses hopeful governor’s order gets people back to work

The words "now hiring" visible on a sign on Tybee Island.
The words "now hiring" visible on a sign on Tybee Island.(WTOC)
Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 5:41 PM EDT
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BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - Many small businesses in the Lowcountry are applauding a move by South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster to get people back to work.

On Thursday, Gov. McMaster announced he is directing the state to no longer participate in any federal, COVID-related unemployment benefit programs, effective this summer. The governor says the call is to combat what he calls an “unprecedented labor shortage.”

Palmera Inn and Suites General Manager Susana Cook says getting folks to stay at her hotel hasn’t been the hard part recently. She says it is finding employees, even applicants for open positions, that has been difficult.

“There are many reasons. But a big reason is that there are several workers that are staying home because they are taking advantage of the benefits available for them through unemployment,” Cook said.

Cook says the shortage is stretching her current employees thin at what she calls an unsustainable level.

“That saying that says you have to wear as many hats as possible. Pretty much everybody here is wearing ten hats,” she said.

Cook’s hotel is not the only business struggling to find workers, according to the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce.

Charlie Clark, with the Chamber, says the island’s tourism industry is especially hurting with a workforce shortage.

Clark says this will be a good thing for business on Island.

“We applaud the governor’s directive to get South Carolinians back to work. To have that workforce and re-up that and send people back into employment is a good thing for all of us,” Clark said.

Cook agrees and hopes the timing of the programs’ end will work out well for another busy summer.

“I would hope they’re going to start applying before that day, so that they are well into being hired and trained so when July 4 hits- they’ll be ready,” Cook said.

The governor’s directive on those benefits will go into effect on June 30 later this year. For more on the programs impacted, please click here.

South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce director Dan Ellzey says there are currently more than 80,000 open positions in South Carolina.

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