South Carolina’s jobless rate dropped again last month to levels not seen under the current methodology for calculating unemployment. However, the drop was mostly driven by thousands exiting the labor force.
The state Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) said unemployment declined by nearly 2,000 people in September, despite the number of individuals listed as working actually dropping by 339 the same time. The result was the unemployment rate falling from 3.4 percent to 3.3 percent.
“Many jobs were interrupted by the unprecedented events of Hurricane Florence and/or Hurricane Michael,” SCDEW executive director Cheryl Stanton said in a statement. “Our agency has spent the last several weeks helping individuals and businesses through mobile units that traveled throughout the affected counties… The health of our economy and the resilience of our citizens will help us continue to rally, recover and get back to work.”
However, South Carolina’s workforce participation rate has been slipping for several years now as Baby Boomers reach retirement age and businesses struggle to hire in the current economic boon. South Carolina’s rate was 57.3 percent in September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is down from 61.1 percent during the recession’s tail end in 2011. South Carolina’s rate was among the ten-worst states in the country for that metric.
South Carolina is still outperforming the rest of the nation’s unemployment rate at 3.7 percent.
Most of the job losses were reported in Leisure and Hospitality (net decrease of 9,300 jobs) and Trade, Transportation, and Utilities.
Lexington and Charleston counties had the state’s lowest unemployment rates at 2.7 percent. Bamberg County had the highest rate at 7.1 percent.