Unemployment taxes go up 400 percent for some

Myrtle Beach area businesses often lay off workers during the slower winter months.

Steve Chapman worries about things most people do. The spike in gas prices, paying his insurance, or even how he'll get across to his 13-year-old son.

"He thinks he knows everything," Chapman jokingly says. "But we all know that's far from the truth."

But one thing worrying him the most right now is how his South Carolina unemployment tax has increased almost $100,000 annually. "I have two businesses I run. One at the Island Vista Inn where it's increased about $72,000 and down the road at my other business, it's another $30,000."

In 2008, South Carolina took a $1 billion bailout from the federal government to help pay for unemployment benefits. Now the government has come to collect.

South Carolina raised unemployment taxes to pay back the federal government. That means some Grand Strand businesses saw their tax bills increase by 400 percent, causing the Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Association to speak up for the area they say was hit hardest.

"The seasonal job market leaves companies on the Grand Strand at a disadvantage," says Hospitality Association President Stephen Greene. "The government has caused unintended consequences forcing people not to hire."

The unemployment tax agency recognizes someone laid off during the winter months as being laid off for the entire year.

"It's not like businesses here don't want to hire someone for the entire year. It's that we can't. It's not feasible. Businesses don't have the constant flow of customers during the down time."

Greene says more companies may start to hire immigrant workers, because those employees would not count as being laid off if they are let go.

"Some businesses fight over keeping a $5,000 increase recycling bill, because it would cause them to lock the doors. So an additional $40-50,000 increase is going to crush them."

Chapman's businesses won't be crushed, but he says this increase has taken three years worth of raises for his employees.

"I understand unemployment benefits. We need to have a safety net there, but I think it wasn't paid attention to as well as it should have been in the last few years."

The increase for Chapman looks counterproductive. "If they (SC Government) increase the cost for unemployment tax by 325 percent, it's not going to entice many businesses to bring some of those seasonal employees back."

Do you think the increase is too much for the state to ask from businesses? Leave a comment.