S.C. jobless rate falls to 6.4% in January

Staff Report
colanews@scbiznews.com
Published March 17, 2014

The unemployment rate in South Carolina fell to 6.4% in January, the second consecutive month the Palmetto State was lower than the national rate in 13 years, the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce reported today.

The national unemployment rate in January was 6.6%.

January’s report marked the eighth straight month that the state’s jobless rate has declined from the previous month, the agency said. December’s seasonally adjusted rate was 6.6%, said the agency.

The decline in January’s jobless rate “is a great way to begin 2014,” said Cheryl Stanton, executive director of the agency. “As employment levels continue to rise, more South Carolinians are working than ever before at a record-breaking high of 2,030,996 in January.”

The estimated number of workers rose 22,127 compared with January 2013’s total of 2,008,869. Meanwhile, the number of unemployed South Carolinians was an estimated 138,268.

“Today’s news is a real testament to the hard working people of South Carolina and another sign that we are continuing to move in the right direction,” said Gov. Nikki Haley. “With more South Carolinians working than ever before — we are consistently proving that our state has the skilled workforce and business environment that companies here and around the world need to grow and succeed.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 43 states and the District of Columbia recorded a drop in the unemployment rate from December.

Nonfarm payroll employment data showed the state’s first month-over-month decrease since June 2013. January’s nonfarm payroll employment dropped by 4,800 to reach a level of 1,916,700, the employment department said.

Sectors seeing gains in January were professional and business services, up 1,100; education and health services, up 400; and information, up 100. Decreases occurred in construction, down 1,700; financial activities, down 1,200; trade, transportation and utilities, down 1,000; government, down 1,000; and other services, down 900.

Since January of 2013, seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs have increased 37,400.

Among the state’s metro areas, Greenville posted the lowest jobless rate in January at 5.4% compared with 7% for the same month in 2013. Greenville’s labor force totaled 315,805 in January, while the number of unemployed totaled 17,190, the employment department said.

The jobless rate for metro Charleston was 5.6% in January compared with 7% for the same month in 2013, the department said. Charleston’s workforce totaled 330,114, while the number of unemployed workers was 18,390.

Metro Columbia’s jobless rate was 5.9% in January compared with 7.5% for the same month in 2013, the agency said. Columbia’s workforce totaled 371,255 while the number of unemployed was 21,866.

Among individual counties, Marion County had the highest unemployment rate in January at 13.6%, down from 18.3% for the same month in 2013. Lexington County recorded the lowest jobless rate at 5.1% in January compared with 6.4% for the same month last year.

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