COLUMBIA — South Carolina’s jobless rate has gone up for the second month in a row, rising in June to 9.4 percent, state officials said Friday.
The rate announced by the state Department of Employment and Workforce was 0.3 percentage points higher than in May and more than a point higher than national unemployment, which stayed flat from May to June at 8.2 percent.
May’s rate of 9.1 percent was the first time South Carolina unemployment had gone up in 10 months. In June, South Carolina was tied with North Carolina for the fifth-highest jobless rate in the nation.
State officials said there were more than 6,600 more unemployed people in South Carolina in June, for a total of nearly 203,000. The number of employed people went down by more than 9,000, to almost 1,950,000. The agency attributed the loss in employment to a drop in full-time jobs, with schools out for summer break.
There were 1,500 job losses in education and health services, a sector that is still 3,400 jobs higher than one year ago. The government sector posted 4,900 in job losses in June, a figure that is still 600 jobs higher than this time last year.
Information jobs were down by 400 last month but are still 1,000 positions higher than a year ago.
Unemployment went up in all but three of South Carolina’s 46 counties. The jobless rate was highest in Marion County, at 18 percent. Lexington County had the state’s lowest unemployment, at 7.7 percent.
The executive director of the workforce agency said in a news release that the state’s employment picture was still far better than a year ago, when South Carolina unemployment was 10.5 percent.
“Much progress has been made since last year as there were more than 22,000 jobs added,” said agency executive director Abraham J. Turner. “Businesses continue to choose our great state as a place to locate or expand.”
During a news conference about accelerating GED programs, Gov. Nikki Haley said she saw the increasing rate as a personal directive to bring more new jobs to the state.
“Of course it is disappointing to see that unemployment number go up. But what it tells me is I need to work harder,” Haley said Friday.