COLUMBIA, S.C. For the first time in months, South Carolina's unemployment rate stayed virtually steady in June, according to numbers released today.
The Employment Security Commission, the state department that tracks unemployment numbers, said the state's jobless rate was 12.1 percent in June. That figure was up just slightly from May's rate, which the commission revised down slightly to 12 percent.
Previously, the commission had also tallied May's rate at 12.1 percent, a figure that set a state record and was the nation's third-highest. Given that news, some experts had feared South Carolina's June rate could be as high as 12.3 percent.
Nationally, unemployment last month was 9.5 percent. South Carolina's jobless rate slipped to the nation's fourth-highest, behind Michigan, Rhode Island and Oregon.
The slight uptick from the revised number was the most gradual since April, when the state's 11.5 percent rate was only one-tenth of a percentage point more than the month before. The last noticeable dip in state unemployment came last September, when the jobless rate fell to 7.3 percent, compared with 7.6 percent the month before - a figure that marked a 15-year high at the time.
Roosevelt T. Halley, the commission's executive director, attributed that drop both to unemployed residents ending their searches for jobs, as well as the state's teachers returning to the work force as schools started back up for the fall.