Haley: Training key to joblessness woes

Gov. Nikki Haley

LEXINGTON -- Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday that recent college graduates, cash-strapped retirees, laid-off middle-aged workers and skills shortfalls are at the heart of the state's nearly worst-in-the-nation unemployment rate.

Haley, in a speech in her hometown of Lexington, also said she wants to require drug testing for people who get the unemployment benefits they have earned while working.

Joblessness is a headache for Haley. In July, South Carolina's unemployment rate was 10.9 percent, tying it for the nation's third worst with Michigan, behind Nevada and California.

Haley said that's because the state's labor force has grown.

"You have college students who have now entered the workforce that need jobs and don't have them. We have people who have been let go in their mid-50s who suddenly are getting back into the work force and having to figure out what they're going to do because they can't work in that same industry," Haley said.

"And more than anything, we also have people who thought they had retired -- thought that they had enough money to live off of -- and no longer have it. So they are now having to get back into the work force."

Haley pointed out that she has announced 11,491 jobs and $1.7 billion in investments.

"That's a lot of jobs. But why are we still having the problems? Because we have companies that need workers. And we have workers that need jobs and we don't have the training to match them up," Haley said.

When Haley took office in January, the state's jobless rate was 10.5 percent. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show that the work force has grown by 2,700 people since then. Meanwhile, 9,200 people have been added to unemployment rolls that now total more than 236,000.

Haley said unemployment is tied to training gaps too.

"So what you're going to see us doing in this next is a full-force training program. We are going to do everything we need to get these people back to work. Everything we need to get them trained," Haley said.

She promised to start a program by next year that will provide incentives for people seeking unemployment to upgrade their skills.

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