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SC unemployment drops to 7.1 percent in November

Aiken, Edgefield jobless rate declines

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — For the second month in a row, South Carolina’s jobless rate fell to its lowest spot in more than five years in November, state officials said Friday.

Last month, state unemployment was 7.1 percent, according to the Department of Employment and Workforce. That was a significant drop from October, when South Carolina’s jobless figure was 7.5 percent.

The 7.1 figure is the lowest that South Carolina unemployment has been since August 2008, when the jobless rate was also 7.1 percent. State officials said November’s rate was the closest that South Carolina unemployment had been to the national rate — which last month was 7.0 percent — in more than a decade.

In Aiken County, the rate was 6.7 percent. Unemployment in Edgefield County was 7.1 percent.

Since 2008, South Carolina’s jobless rate climbed as the country began to feel effects from the national financial crisis. South Carolina’s jobless rate peaked at 12.5 percent in January 2010, when the state frequently had one of the top three highest jobless rates in the country.

On Friday, Gov. Nikki Haley issued a statement heralding the drop as good news for the state, which had unemployment of 8.6 percent a year ago.

“The fact that people and companies want to work and grow in South Carolina is no accident – it’s what happens when you combine a dedicated workforce with a strong business environment – and that is a real reason to celebrate,” the Republican said.

State officials said the number of unemployed people in South Carolina went down by more than 10,000 over the last month, while the number of employed people increased by more than 6,000.

November also marked the first time since July 2008 that South Carolina’s total employment was more than 2 million, according to DEW executive director Cheryl M. Stanton.

The biggest job gains came in government, hospitality and educational and health services, which posted a combined growth of 4,200 positions. Over the past year, South Carolina has added a total of 12,800 jobs in those sectors.

Jobless rates fell in all but six of South Carolina’s 46 counties. Unemployment was highest in Marion County, at 13.1 percent. Lexington County posted the state’s lowest unemployment, at 5.2 percent.

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