State jobless rate falls below national average

Staff Report
colanews@scbiznews.com
Published Jan. 28, 2014

South Carolina’s jobless rate in December dropped below the national average for the first time since 2001, the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce reported today.

According to the agency, the state’s unemployment rate slipped a half-point in December to 6.6%, down from 7.1% in November.

The national unemployment rate in December was 6.7%.

“Today marks an exciting and great day because the last time South Carolina’s unemployment rate fell below the national average was January 2001,” said Cheryl M. Stanton, executive director of DEW. “Such outstanding news lets us know South Carolina is on the right track and provides even further inspiration for DEW as we focus on matching and training workers to fit the statewide business community’s workforce needs, which will further reduce the number of unemployed.”

The December report marked the fourth consecutive month of decline in the state’s unemployment rate, DEW said. The December rate is the lowest since June 2008. Additionally, 2 million South Carolinians are now employed, the highest level since January 2008, the agency added.

“Getting our unemployment rate to this nearly 6-year low didn’t happen overnight and didn’t happen by itself – it’s the product of Team South Carolina working together to build the kind of business environment that attracts new companies and encourages existing ones to expand,” said Gov. Nikki Haley. “The fact that more South Carolinians are working today than since 2008, proves we are moving in the right direction.”

The estimated number of unemployed workers in December was 142,371, a decrease of 9,800 from November, DEW said. The number of employed workers rose by 10,572 to 2,011,198 in December. The agency also estimated that the state’s labor force totaled 2,153,569, less than 800 more than November’s tally of 2,152,797.

Since December 2012, the unemployment rate has dropped 2.0 percentage points and the total number of unemployed workers has fallen by 43,493. DEW estimates that during the 12-month period, 26,824 people found jobs and 16,669 left the workforce.

December’s seasonally adjusted, non-farm payroll increased for the seventh consecutive month to 1,913,300.

The largest gains were in the following sectors: Trade, Transportation, and Utilities, up 3,200; Leisure and Hospitality, up 3,000; and Other Services, up 1,200. Gains also occurred in Manufacturing, up 500; and Professional and Business Services, up 400.

Government employment dropped by 1,100 workers in December. The Construction and Education and Health Services sectors each lost 400 workers.

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