COLUMBIA — South Carolina’s unemployment rate fell for the second straight month in October, a drop a state official on Tuesday attributed to federal job training assistance.
The state’s jobless rate fell to 10.5 percent last month, said the Department of Employment and Workforce, which also revised the September jobless rate down from 11 percent to 10.9 percent.
The decline marked the first time in five years that the state’s jobless rate went down between September and October. Officials attributed that drop to fewer job seekers during the month, coupled with stronger employment growth.
The executive director of the state’s jobless agency said federal assistance was helping South Carolina’s unemployment picture improve.
“South Carolina recently received roughly $20 million in workforce development grants from the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education to be used for retraining unemployed citizens in emerging industries, such as industrial maintenance and manufacturing, engineering, and transportation,” Abraham Turner said in a news release. “I am confident that with this training we can expect to see a continued decrease in our state’s unemployment rate.”
State officials said the number of unemployed people went down in the last month by 9,600, making the total number of unemployed just over 227,700.
Nationally, South Carolina’s jobless rate was the country’s fifth-highest, behind Nevada, California, Michigan and Mississippi.
The national rate dropped slightly from 9.1 percent to 9 percent. Last week, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits for the first time each week fell to 388,000, its lowest point since April. The four-week average dropped below 400,000 for the first time in seven months.
The state’s largest job gains were in government, education and health services and trade, transportation and utilities, all of which added a combined 7,800 jobs over the last month – and are up a combined 2,700 jobs compared to October 2010.
Unemployment went down in all but one of South Carolina’s 46 counties. Saluda County was the only area to experience a month-to-month increase, going from 8.4 percent in September to 9.6 percent in October.
Leisure and hospitality and natural resources and mining jobs were down a combined 2,300 jobs since September. Construction and government made month-to-month gains, but both sectors are still down 4,700 and 5,100 jobs respectively when compared to October 2010.
Manufacturing jobs were up 600 jobs since September and 10,800 since a year ago.