FLORENCE, S.C. — U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, R-S.C., will hold a field hearing Friday afternoon in Dillon with several participants to discuss unemployment challenges in rural America.

Rice, who represents much of Florence County and the Pee Dee, chairs the Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access on Capitol Hill, said the hearing will examine ways the government can support economic growth and help create jobs in rural communities.

“While the recession officially ended over four years ago, more than half of the counties in the United States are yet to recover, including many in South Carolina,” Rice said. “Likewise, uncertainty has led to a much slower recovery for small businesses than large businesses. I look forward to discussing with our witnesses what can be done to better foster job creation, particularly in rural areas.”

Those witnesses include Charlotte-based Richard Kaglic, a regional economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Kaglic hinted at his prepared remarks.

“I will be talking about the national and South Carolina economic conditions, currently, and what that might portend for 2014 and what it might mean for labor markets in the state,” Kaglic said. “I will be talking about the U.S. and statewide economy. I won’t be delving down into the details. That will be for others with those areas of expertise.”

While scant on specifics, Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker gave insight to employment trends during a Jan. 10 speech, where he gave his personal outlook for 2014. He said from 1983 to 2000, employment increased at an annual rate of 1.8 percent. During the past four years, that number has been just 1 percent because of the size of the working age population growing more slowly than before.

“In addition, I’ve been struck by the large number of accounts I’ve heard of firms having difficulty finding workers with the appropriate skills, in many cases constraining production,” Lacker said. “It appears as if the nature of current technological advances may be shifting the mix of requisite workforce skills more rapidly than in the past, which would impede the rate at which unemployed workers can be drawn back into employment.”

Jeff McKay, executive director of the North Eastern Strategic Alliance, will provide the subcommittee with local perspective from the nine-member region it represents.

“I plan to focus on three things,” McKay said. “How to improve infrastructure and the cost and consequences that could have on the region, any mentoring opportunities from entrepreneurs who have been successful on a national stage and access to capital, which seems to be part of any discussion you hear about with rural, small business growth.”

Joe Jacobs, senior vice president of operations with the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership, said South Carolina’s manufacturing situation varies daily.

“That’s the million-dollar question. We’re very busy right now, but it’s up and down,” Lacker said. “I think manufacturing is coming back, but that’s something subject to change almost on a daily basis.”