State agency: ‘Lifeboat jobs’ are out there in retail trade industry

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With more than 200,000 South Carolinians unemployed and receiving a maximum $326 unemployment check as the pandemic continues, the state’s top employment agency wants individuals to be aware of in-demand jobs.

On Wednesday, the state Department of Employment and Workforce released its second in a series of “lifeboat jobs,” spotlighting current available jobs in the retail trade industry that can get someone through until the economy recovers.

The agency spent June and July combing through online occupational postings to find the most available jobs – by number of current postings this summer – in the state.

Also, based on the agency’s research, many of the available career pivots could lead to long-term prospects based on skills acquired.

Last week, the agency detailed five jobs in the hospitality and accommodation industry. This week, the agency showcased five jobs in retail trade.

According to the agency, a “lifeboat job” is somewhat of a new term used to describe a position that can hold someone over until the economy recovers. Each “lifeboat job” affords a person with an opportunity to earn a paycheck almost immediately, according to agency Labor Market Information Director Brian Nottingham.

“You can also gain experience and learn new skills that can be leveraged further down the road to land a higher-paying job. This is a win-win,” he said.

After significant layoffs in March and April to adhere to mandated closures, many retailers and shopping centers have reopened now and are hiring, according to agency data.

Some highlighted “lifeboat jobs” currently are retail salespersons, first-line supervisors in retail, driver/sales workers to include restaurant take-out or commercial laundry and marking clerks.

Various skills that a person can obtain from a “lifeboat” are noteworthy, and they could help someone in the long term.

For example, in its graphical presentation, the agency shows a retail salesperson acquires skills such as quality control, analysis and persuasion, which could lead to a future job as a hotel concierge, counter or rental clerk, parts salesperson or first-line supervisor of retail sales workers – all growing occupations.

In turn, a first-line supervisor in retail acquires various skills such as judgment, decision making, scheduling and personnel management, which could then lead to an operations or general manager-type position, a wholesale and retail buyer position or a first-line supervisor job in a different field.

Another example is that a driver/sales worker develops skill sets in persuasion, written and verbal communication and record keeping, which could lead to a customer service representative position, shipping, receiving and traffic clerk or heavy tractor-trailer truck driver job – all growing occupations as well.


The state’s current unemployment rate is 8.6% as of July, ranking 27th of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

South Carolina’s unemployment rate in February, before the COVID-19 pandemic reached the U.S., was 2.5% and was the second-smallest rate in the country. The July jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics showed the state has gained back about 150,000 of the 272,700 jobs lost in April associated with the temporary shutdown from the spread of the coronavirus. That is a 55% increase.

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