South Carolina’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level in 15 years last month, although the decline was due more to people exiting the labor force rather than an increase in new jobs.
The state Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) released its July labor data Friday, announcing the jobless rate had fallen to 5.2 percent from 5.4 percent in June. That is the lowest reported unemployment rate in South Carolina since June 2001.
However, the monthly decline was largely due to a drop in the number of people participating in South Carolina’s labor force. SCDEW said the number of people listed as “unemployed” had decreased by more than 4,800 in July, while the number of “employed” had also fallen by 2,400 workers. That meant the state’s overall labor force declined by more than 7,200 last month as individuals retired or stopped looking for work.
South Carolina’s labor force is still much larger than it was a year ago. SCDEW said the number of people working or looking for work was up by more than 52,000 from July 2015. The unemployment rate has dropped 0.5 percentage points since that time.
Nationally, the unemployment rate was unchanged last month at 4.9 percent overall.
The job sectors reported the most growth in July were Professional and Business Services (+2,300) and Government (+2,100). The industries seeing declines included Manufacturing (-1,000) and Construction (-900).
Bamberg County had the highest unemployment rate in South Carolina. The county’s 10.5 percent was more than double the state’s overall rate. Lexington County had the lowest rate at 4.4. percent.