South Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped slightly in December, as South Carolina’s record-high labor force continued growing at the same time the number of those with jobs also increased.
December’s jobless rate of 6.5 percent was a decrease from 6.7 in November, according to data released Tuesday by the state Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW). January reversed what had been a slowly rising rate since last summer.
The estimated number of South Carolinians working increased by more than 7,200 last month, according to SCDEW. Meanwhile, the state’s labor force increased by nearly 4,500 in that same span at the same time the number of unemployed workers fell by almost 2,800. The net result was both South Carolina’s largest workforce and total labor force ever recorded.
“While we are happy to see unemployment numbers coming down, we are going to continue focusing on those out of work,” Gov. Nikki Haley said in a statement. “Our new workforce training initiatives are going to expand opportunity in every part of South Carolina and keep our state on the move.”
However, the Palmetto State’s 6.5 percent rate is still ninth-highest in the country, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It trails North Carolina’s 5.5 percent unemployment, but is lower than Georgia’s 6.9 percent.
When seasonally adjusted, the largest net increases among job sectors came in Professional and Business Services, as well as the Construction industry. The worst declines came in Leisure and Hospitality, as well as information services. Among cities, the Charleston metropolitan area reported a net 3,800 new jobs when seasonally adjusted. The Columbia area reported a loss of 3,100. Marion County’s unemployment rate remains the state’s highest at 11.9 percent, while Saluda County was the lowest at 5 percent.
The unemployment rate in December 2013 was just a tick higher at 6.6 percent.