COLUMBIA — South Carolina’s jobless rate marked a four-month decline in December to its lowest number in three years, but local communities were moving in the opposite direction.
The state’s 9.5 percent unemployment rate in December was down from 9.9 percent in November. The rate is at its lowest point since December 2008, when it was 9.2 percent.
Aiken County’s rate rose from 8 percent to 8.5 percent from November to December, while Barnwell County jumped from 14.7 percent to 15.3 percent and Edgefield County swelled from 8.7 to 9.5 percent.
The national jobless rate declined from 8.7 percent in November to 8.5 percent in December, a full point lower than the Palmetto State.
The news isn’t great everywhere in South Carolina: Only six of the state’s 46 counties reported lower unemployment rates. Marion County had the state’s highest jobless rate, 17.9 percent, up from 17.4 percent. Lexington County’s rate of 7 percent was the state’s lowest and up from 6.9 percent in December.
There were 3,800 fewer people working nonfarm jobs in December, but that overall category gained 17,800 jobs in the past year.
The biggest monthly gains came with 1,200 jobs in manufacturing and 1,500 in trade, transportation and utilities – all key to making and moving goods. Manufacturers, led by companies making products that last longer, have added 11,600 people to their payrolls in the past year. Trade, transportation and utilities are up 6,000 with retailers leading gains there.
The largest loss came with seasonal employment declines of 3,500 in leisure and tourism, while government payrolls lost 2,800.