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Unemployment falls to 4.6% in S.C. in May

Human Resources
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South Carolina’s unemployment rate fell to 4.6% in May from 5% in April, with the state’s leisure and hospitality industry reporting a gain of 4,000 jobs.

The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce’s monthly, seasonally adjusted survey of households found that number of South Carolinians working increased to 2,277,749, an increase of 14,783 from the April 2021 estimate and up 185,178 from the May 2020 estimate. Unemployment estimates decreased to 110,339 people, a drop of 8,056 from April 2021 and down 162,825 from May 2020.

South Carolina’s labor force, or working people plus unemployed people looking for work, increased to 2,388,088, up 6,727 people from the April 2021 estimate and up 22,353 from May 2020.

Nationally, the unemployment rate decreased to 5.8% in May from 6.1% in April.

Other S.C. industries reporting month-to-month gains were trade, transportation and utilities (2,600) and manufacturing (900), according to DEW. Government lost 2,500 jobs, while financial activities lost 1,100 and construction 1,000.

From May 2020 to May 2021, South Carolina’s economy has picked up 158,600 seasonally adjusted, nonfarm job, led by an increase of 55,000 jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector.

Federal unemployment program benefits will end in the state on June 30 per a directive from S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster. The last claim week to receive those payments ends Saturday, DEW said.

“While this is very good news, and it is exciting to see South Carolina’s workforce engine revving up again, there are more than 80,000 jobs available to people who will no longer be drawing the federal pandemic unemployment funds,” Dan Ellzey, DEW executive director, said in a news release. “Individuals and families will need these jobs, and employers are recruiting and anxious to hire.”

For the week ending June 19, 1.633 initial unemployment claims were filed in South Carolina, with nearly $58 million paid out in a combination of state and federal benefits, according to DEW data. Greenville County saw a state-high 168 initial claims filed, while Richland County saw 132.

Nationally, initial claims by 7,000 from the previous week to 411,000.

Since March 15, 2020, DEW has paid out more than $6.4 billion to 904,008 claimants.

Unemployment rates fell in every S.C. county from April to May 2021. Richland County saw a drop from 4.6% to 3.7%, while Lexington County saw a decrease from 3.3% to 2.7%, the lowest in the state.

Unemployment stood at 9.7% in Richland County and at 7.7% in Lexington County in May 2020.

The Columbia metropolitan statistical area added 2,900 jobs from April to May 2021. Charleston/North Charleston added 2,200, Greenville added 1,700 and Spartanburg added 1,000.

Since May 2020, the Columbia MSA has added 19,000 jobs. Charleston/North Charleston has added 31,000, Greenville 32,300 and Spartanburg 13,700.

Reach Melinda Waldrop at 803-726-7542.

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