Jobless rate rises locally, falls in S.C.

03/17/2014 11:13 PM

03/17/2014 11:15 PM

South Carolina’s unemployment went down in January for the eighth month in a row, dipping to 6.4 percent, state officials said Monday.

The drop, announced by the Department of Employment and Workforce, is down from December’s jobless rate of 6.6 percent. That mark, state officials said then, was the first time in more than a decade that South Carolina’s unemployment had been below the national rate.

However, unemployment rates in York, Chester and Lancaster counties went up in January, compared to December.

In fact, despite the dip in statewide unemployment, jobless rates went up in all but three of South Carolina’s 46 counties in January. Marion County had the state’s highest unemployment, at 13.6 percent. Jobless rates were lowest in Lexington County, at 5.1 percent.

York County’s rate jumped a full percentage point, coming in at 8.2 percent in January, up from 7.2 percent in December. Chester’s rate was at 9.7 percent, up from 9.2 percent; and Lancaster’s rate was 7.9 percent, up from 7.4 percent.

Statistical anomalies aside, however, there have been 46,000 new jobs created in South Carolina since January 2013, for a growth rate of 2.5 percent, College of Charleston economist Frank Hefner said.

“You can’t explain (the statistical differences) in the press,” he said. “But 2.5 percent is real growth.”

Nationally, unemployment was 6.6 percent in January, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. South Carolina’s rate was tied with four other states for 21st-highest in the nation.

In January, the number of employed people in South Carolina reached a record high of nearly 2,031,000. That’s an increase of more than 22,000 people over the past year.

Nonagricultural jobs in South Carolina went down by 4,800 in January but are up by 37,000 compared with a year ago, according to state officials.

Over the last month, only two sectors – education and health services and information – posted job gains, with a total of 500 jobs. Since January 2013, those sectors are up by 5,200 jobs.

“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,” Gov. Nikki Haley said. “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.”

The (Columbia) State contributed.

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