York County jobless rate drops to 4-year low

From staff and wire reportsDecember 21, 2012 

York County’s unemployment rate hit 9.2 percent in November, the lowest it’s been since the same time period in 2008.

York County’s rate was 10.1 percent in October, according to the state Department of Employment and Workforce. It had dipped below 10 percent in September, hitting 9.8 percent.

Statewide, the rate dropped for the fourth straight month to the lowest it has been since October 2008, hitting 8.3 percent, according to the state Department of Employment and Workforce.

More modest gains were reported in Chester and Lancaster counties. The unemployment rate in Chester County dropped from 12.8 percent in October to 12.5 percent while the rate in Lancaster County was 11 percent, down from 11.2 percent.

Analysts with the Department of Employment and Workforce said there was no one reason York County’s rate fell, but said the improving unemployment rate is not due to people leaving the job market.

Friday’s report was consistent with a recent report Winthrop University economic professor Lou Pantuosco gave as part of his duties as a member of the S.C. Board of Economic Advisors. Pantuosco predicted employment growth would be about 1 percent.

Small businesses are still hindered by rising health costs and uncertainty, Pantuosco said, while large businesses are not seeing enough growth to significantly increase employment. Several recent economic development announcements have promised to bring hundreds of jobs to York County, but those jobs are not expected to be filled until the middle of 2013.

Overall, South Carolina companies added nearly 10,000 jobs in November, with the majority in retail for the Christmas shopping season. More than 3,000 jobs in government were added but 2,200 leisure and hospitality jobs were lost as the tourism season wound down.

The national unemployment rate for November also dropped, to 7.7 percent. Jobless rates fell in 45 states last month, and South Carolina's rate tied for the 14th-highest unemployment in the country.

The state jobless rate has dropped four straight months since reaching 9.7 percent in July. The peak unemployment rate for the state was 12 percent in November 2990. Rates in York, Chester and Lancaster counties were higher. York County’s peak was 16.8 percent in January, 2011. Unemployment in Rock Hill was at its highest in August 2010 when it reached 18.8 percent.

Gov. Nikki Haley said the unemployment numbers were good news and she plans to keep focusing on bringing jobs to South Carolina.

“We're headed in the right direction. But we can't stop now. We're pleased to see our state's unemployment at a four year low, but we understand there is work to do for us to make sure that number continues to drop,” Haley said in a statement.

Unemployment dropped in 18 of South Carolina's 46 counties in November and remained the lowest in Lexington County, at 6.3 percent. The jobless rate went up in 24 counties, with the highest rate now in Marion County at 15.8 percent. Four counties marked no change.

The Associated Press contributed

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