Originally created 04/24/98

S.C unemployment lowers Augusta rates



Low unemployment in South Carolina, pushed preliminary unemployment rates for the Augusta area down to 4.6 percent in March, according to figures released Thursday by the Georgia Department of Labor.

South Carolina reported a 40-year low unemployment rate of 2.4 percent in March, according to the latest figures from the state's Employment Security Commission.

The Augusta metropolitan area -- which includes Columbia, McDuffie and Richmond counties in Georgia, and Aiken and Edgefield counties in South Carolina -- had a rate almost 1 percent lower than February's revised rate of 5.5 percent and 1.7 percent lower than it was in March 1997.

"Augusta continues to enjoy good job growth and economic prosperity," Georgia Labor Commissioner Marti Fullerton said. "For the past several months, the area's unemployment rate has consistently been in the 5 percent range, and a thousand new jobs have been created within the past year."

March unemployment for residents of the Augusta area on the South Carolina side of the river was 2.7 percent, and in Georgia, 5.6 percent.

More jobs are expected with the arrival of spring and summer as positions open in areas such as recreation, construction and other outdoor jobs, Georgia Labor Department officials said.

While the total number of people employed in March shrank slightly from 1997 -- 190,681 compared with 191,832 -- the number of unemployed people also dropped by 3,688 -- 9,220 compared with 12,908.

In Warren County, where Healthtex recently closed its cut-and-sew plant, unemployment rose from 8.8 percent in February of this year to 11.1 percent in March.

Georgia's unemployment rate declined to 4 percent in March, down from a revised 4.2 percent in February. It was 4.76 percent in March 1997.