COLUMBIA — South Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped again in April, down from 5.5 percent in March to 5.3 percent, the lowest level in 13 years.
The State Department of Employment and Workforce reported Friday that there were about 114,000 people unemployed in the state during April. That’s down more than 4,600 from the previous month.
The number of people working in the state in April reached an all-time high with about 2.05 million employed. The department said nearly 36,000 people have found work since April of last year.
The seasonally adjusted increase in employment from March to April was led by gains in manufacturing, which added 1,800 jobs, followed by transportation and utilities, which added 1,600, and government, where an additional 1,300 people were working. About 500 fewer people were working in financial services in April than in March.
Since April 2013, professional and business services added 9,500 jobs, tourism added 9,100 and manufacturing about 7,300. Financial services lost 1,000 jobs during the past year.
The Greenville area led in job growth during the past year, adding 7,900 jobs. The Columbia area added 6,700 while the Charleston area added 5,100.
Nationally, unemployment rates fell in nearly all U.S. states last month, and half the states now have rates below 6 percent. The figures are a sign of widespread, if slow, improvement in the nation’s job market. The national unemployment rate during April was 6.3 percent.
Unemployment rates fell in 43 states in April, the Labor Department said Friday, rose in two states and were unchanged in five.
Hiring is picking up as well. Employers added jobs in 39 states, while 10 states posted job losses. Nebraska reported no change.
Twenty-five states now have unemployment rates of 5.9 percent or lower. The Federal Reserve considers “full employment” to be between 5.2 percent and 5.6 percent. Rates at that level are considered “full employment” because if they fell lower, inflation could rise. But the relationship isn’t exact. The national rate fell to 3.9 percent in late 2000 without causing a spike in prices.
Many of the states with low unemployment are small. North Dakota continues to have the lowest rate nationwide at 2.6 percent.
But some larger states are also seeing improvement. Texas’ unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent in April from 5.5 percent in March. Employers added 64,100 jobs last month, the most of any state.