Augusta Economy

More News | Fort Gordon | Plant Vogtle | Savannah River Site | Editor

S.C. jobless rate drops slightly in February

  • Follow Business

COLUMBIA — South Carolina unemployment dropped slightly in February to 8.6 percent, a dip that state officials attributed in part Friday to big increases in the government sector.

February’s rate was slightly lower than January’s 8.7 percent, according to the state Department of Employment and Workforce.

Officials attributed the drop to gains in non-farm jobs, which went up by nearly 18,000 last month and are more than 30,000 higher than February 2012. The government sector grew last month by 8,000 jobs, with officials saying that was because schools ramped up hiring for the spring semester. The state’s total for government sector jobs was 355,200, more than 6,000 jobs higher than a year ago.

Demand was also higher last month for health care and social services. The leisure and hospitality sectors gained about 4,000 jobs.

Rob Godfrey, a spokesman for Gov. Nikki Haley, hailed the decline in unemployment as evidence that the Republican’s efforts to bring jobs to the state were paying off.

South Carolina’s unemployment was tied with several other areas for the 10th-highest in the country.

Unemployment was highest in Marion County, at 17.9 percent, while Lexington County’s 6.4 percent was the state’s lowest. Jobless rates went down in all but two counties.

South Carolina’s jobless agency is seeking a new director. Five people have submitted their names for the vacancy created when Abraham Turner resigned from the post last month, a day after senators demanded answers for why the agency had given nearly $440,000 in raises to dozens of employees but is cutting one-on-one help for people seeking benefits in 17 rural offices statewide.

NATIONAL NUMBERS

Unemployment rates fell in 22 U.S. states in February from January, rose in 12 states and were unchanged in 16, the Labor Department said Friday.

Nationally, the unemployment rate slid to a four-year low of 7.7 percent in February, down from 7.9 percent in January. Since November, employers across the country have added an average of 200,000 jobs a month, nearly double the average from last spring.

States hit hardest during the recession are showing improvement. In Nevada, unemployment dropped to 9.6 percent last month, down from 11.8 percent a year ago. That’s the biggest year-over-year decrease among states.

California, Mississippi and Nevada tied for the nation’s highest jobless rate, at 9.6 percent.

– Associated Press


Search Augusta jobs