A shrinking labor force led to a slight decline in South Carolina’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate last month, according to new data released by the state’s workforce agency.
The Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) said Tuesday that South Carolina’s jobless rate dropped from 5.2 percent to 5.1 percent in August, largely driven by nearly 5,900 fewer people listed in the state’s labor force last month than in July. The state’s unemployment rate has not been that low since May 2001.
Unemployment fell by more than 3,800 people last month, while the number of residents listed as “employed” also decreased by roughly 2,000 over the same time period. Still, more than 54,500 additional people are now in South Carolina’s workforce since August 2015, while unemployment fell by more than 9,400 people in that span.
“When businesses decide to expand or locate here, they are showing confidence that a pool of skilled workers is available,” SCDEW Executive Director Cheryl Stanton said in a statement. “In the last year, more than 54,000 people have found work and are again providing for themselves. However, we still have work to do in finding jobs for the 117,000 unemployed.”
Nationally, the unemployment rate remained the same from July to August at 4.9 percent.
Education and Health Services saw the largest net increase last month with 2,600 net new jobs. Trade, Transportation, and Utilities also saw four-digit growth. Leisure and Hospitality was the only sector with a net decline, noting 400 fewer jobs than July.
However, two rural counties reported jobless rates more than twice the state average. Bamberg County saw an increase to 11.4 percent unemployment, while the much larger Orangeburg County saw 11.3 percent unemployment. Charleston and Lexington counties had the state’s lowest rates at 4.5 percent.