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S.C. jobless rate falls to 5-year low

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COLUMBIA — South Caro­lina’s unemployment rate fell to its lowest rate in five years in April, state officials said Friday, a drop attributed in part to increased hiring in preparation for the summer tourist season.

The state’s jobless rate fell to 8 percent in April, the lowest since October 2008, according to the Department of Employment and Workforce.

The state’s peak unemployment rate was 12 percent in November 2009. The agency said the drop from 8.4 percent in March represents the state’s largest month-to-month decrease since May 1987. The drop tied with Cali­fornia and New York for the largest month-to-month decrease, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

From March to April, the number of employed in South Carolina increased by 2,935 to nearly 2 million. Around 174,000 people were unemployed, according to the state workforce agency.

National unemployment went down slightly in April, to 7.5 percent. South Carolina tied with Oregon and Tennessee for the 10th-highest unemployment in the country. Nevada had the nation’s highest jobless rate, at 9.6 percent.

In South Carolina last month, professional and business services and construction jobs went up by 4,000. Trade, transportation and utilities jobs grew by 2,300. The state’s manufacturing industry reported a loss of 900 jobs as employment in durable and non-durable goods fell.

The biggest gains came in the leisure and hospitality sector, which grew by 8,700. The state said most of those new hires were in accommodation and food services.

Tourism spending in South Carolina reached a record $16.5 billion in 2011, according to the state De­partment of Parks, Recre­ation and Tourism.

South Carolina state parks had record revenues of $21 million last fiscal year. Last fall, Charleston was named the top tourist destination in the world by readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine.

Jobless rates fell in all of South Carolina’s 46 counties in April. Unemployment was highest in Marion County, at 15 percent. Lexington County had the state’s lowest jobless rate, at 5.7 percent.

RATE DECLINES IN 40 STATES

Solid hiring helped lower unemployment rates in 40 U.S. states last month, the most since November. The declines show the job market is improving throughout most of the country.

The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates increased in only three states: Louisiana, Tennessee and North Dakota. Rates were unchanged in seven states.

The report said 30 states added jobs in April, while 18 reported fewer jobs.

Nationwide, employers added 165,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate fell to a four-year low of 7.5 percent. The economy has added an average of 208,000 jobs a month since November. That’s up from only 138,000 a month in the previous six months.

– Associated Press


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