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S.C. jobless rate notches biggest one-month drop in 3 decades

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Staff Report
Published Sept. 18, 2015

South Carolina’s jobless rate dropped for the third consecutive month in August to 6%, down from July’s 6.4%, the state Department of Employment and Workforce reported today.

The decline from July to August was the largest one-month drop since 1983, the agency added. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said South Carolina was among eight states that had the largest “statistically significant over-the-month” decline for the month.

S.C. employment set a record in August, increasing 2,771 to 2,113,743 people, while the labor force shrank by 5,139 to 2,249,028 people. The number of out-of-work South Carolinians dropped by 7,910 to 135,285 from July to August.

“It has been 32 years since our unemployment rate has seen a one-month decline this dramatic,” said Cheryl Stanton, director of the Department of Employment and Workforce. “While we need to celebrate this, we also must continue to invest in developing a pipeline of trained workers to meet the needs of the state’s current and future employers.”

From August 2014 to August 2015, the state’s employment level increased by 58,987 people, the labor force grew by 51,997 and the number of unemployed people dropped by 6,990.

“These numbers reflect the fact that more South Carolinians are working than any time in history,” Gov. Nikki Haley said. “Whether it's another business expansion, another groundbreaking or another drop in our unemployment rate, there are great things happening in our state.”

Nationally, the unemployment rate fell to 5.1% in August from 5.3 % in July.

Statewide, the sectors that recorded the largest increase in jobs in August were government, at up 1,400, and manufacturing, up 1,000. Additional gains were in other services, at up 700; construction, up 600; financial activities, up 400; education and health services, up 300; leisure and hospitality, up 300; and professional and business services at up 200.

Industries reporting losses were information, at down 400, and trade, transportation and utilities, down 200.

Among the state’s metro areas, the jobless rate in the Charleston region fell to 5.3% in August compared with 5.5% in July. Greenville’s unemployment rate was 5.5%, down from 5.7% in July, while Columbia’s rate dropped to 5.8% in August compared with 6% in July, and Florence reached 7.1% in August, down from 7.5% the month before.

Charleston and Lexington counties recorded the lowest jobless rate at 5.1%, while Richland matched the state average of 6%.

The highest jobless rate for August among the 46 counties was 11.8% in Orangeburg followed by 11.2% in Bamberg.

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