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Jobs are there in Florence, consultant says, but not the right ones
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CITY COUNCIL

Jobs are there in Florence, consultant says, but not the right ones

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Gary Mitchell

Gary Mitchell − the president of Kendig Keast, the firm preparing the city’s comprehensive plan − presented information about the current state of the city to the Florence City Council on Tuesday afternoon.

FLORENCE, S.C. – Jobs may be abundant in Florence.

Gary Mitchell − president of Kendig Keast, the firm preparing the city’s comprehensive plan − presented information on the current state of the city to the Florence City Council on Tuesday afternoon.

Mitchell showed a slide indicating that there were 0.97 jobs for every resident of the city compared to 0.48 jobs per resident of the United States and 0.38 per resident of South Carolina.

“Sixty percent of your population is in the working age, roughly age 18 to 65,” Mitchell said. “So, there’s a fair number of jobs in the community. But what a lot of the discussion [at community comprehensive plan meetings] has been about is job mismatch.”

Mitchell defined job mismatch as a job that the local workforce cannot fill because of skills or a lack of education. He added that the number was positive but also said that future businesses looking at Florence are going to want to know that the local workforce can meet their needs.

Mitchell also said a company known in the planning world projected the city’s population at 39,034 in 2020. He added that the state data center estimate was 38,467.

“The point of this is that steady growth is what Florence has experienced over the last several decades,” Mitchell said.

The 39,034 population estimate would mean the city has grown by 14.6% since 2000, or 0.73% per year.

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However, population estimates indicate that the state of South Carolina’s population has grown by 31.7% since 2000.

Mitchell added that the city’s population is slightly older that the state’s population at a median age of 39.9 years compared to 39.5 years in the state and 38.5 in the country.

“What’s really behind those numbers is that Florence has a higher than typical share of 65-plus population and 18 and below,” Mitchell said. “There aren’t as many people in between. In a lot of cities your size, they’re trying to retain the kids that grew up here. ...”

Mitchell also said that the city had a higher percentage of renters than the state and national average.

The numbers he showed the council indicate that 41.5% of the housing units in the city are rented, compared to 35.9% nationally and 29.9% in the state.

He also said that two-thirds of the city’s homes were built before 1990.

“That’s kind of a red-flag point,” Mitchell said. “Maybe the mortgage has been paid off and that house is getting older and older and harder to maintain. That’s a challenge for the community when you have that much housing that’s older.”

Mitchell added that the city’s renters are also spending more on their homes than the average person in the state and country.

The data he provided indicated that 50.3% of a renters income was going toward their residence compared to 48.5% nationally and 47.6% statewide.

Mitchell also said the city is in good shape with its water and wastewater systems.

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Government and Politics Reporter

I cover the city of Florence, the county of Florence, the state legislative delegation of Florence County and surrounding areas, and the federal delegation representing the Pee Dee for the Morning News.

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