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S.C. unemployment rate drops for second month in a row

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COLUMBIA — Unemploy­ment in South Caro­lina fell in March for the second month in a row, as the state added thousands of hospitality jobs in preparation for its busy tourist season, state officials said Friday.

The state’s jobless rate was 8.4 percent last month, according to the Depart­ment of Employment and Work­force. That’s a 0.2 percentage point drop from February.

Jobless rates fell in all 46 counties. Unemployment was highest in Marion County, at 16.2 percent. Lexington County had the lowest figure, 6.0 percent.

The state’s labor force dropped slightly, to 2,175,091, officials said. But over the last month, South Carolina gained nearly 10,000 leisure and hospitality jobs as the state prepared for its summer tourist season. That industry, which does $15 billion in business annually, has grown by more than 11,000 jobs since this time last year.

Earlier this month, state figures showed tourism as South Carolina’s fastest-growing industry in terms of new jobs, with more than 212,000 workers statewide – more than 5 percent higher than a year ago.

Over the past month, South Carolina also marked gains in professional and business services and government sectors, which both grew by more than 2,000 jobs each.

Several sectors shrank over the past month, with construction, education and health services and information each posting 400 in job losses.

UNEMPLOYED END JOB HUNTS

Unemployment rates fell in 26 states in March, largely because many of those out of work stopped looking for jobs and were no longer counted as unemployed. Rates rose in seven states.

Only 23 states reported a net gain in hiring in March, the fewest since August 2011. Nationally, employers added only 88,000 jobs in March, down from an average of 220,000 from November through February.

National unemployment fell last month, from 7.7 percent to 7.6 percent. but only because more Americans ended their job searches. South Carolina’s jobless rate was tied with Georgia for 11th-highest in the country. Nevada’s unemployment was the nation’s highest at 9.7 percent.

– Associated Press


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