COLUMBIA — South Carolina unemployment has dropped by half a percentage point for the second month in a row, the biggest drop in the nation in October.
The 8.6 percent figure announced Tuesday by the state Department of Employment and Workforce was South Carolina’s lowest jobless rate in nearly four years. The last time the state’s unemployment marker was at 8.6 percent was in November 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The unemployment rate for Aiken County dropped from 8.2 percent in September to 7.3 percent in October, according to the state Department of Employment and Workforce.
The October rate was also 1.5 percentage points lower than a year ago, state officials said. The number of unemployed people in South Carolina went down by more than 10,800 to 183,000, while the total employed climbed to more than 1.9 million.
In September, South Carolina’s unemployment rate fell to 9.1 percent, mirroring a nationwide trend. Last month, national unemployment moved up slightly to 7.9 percent as more people looked for work.
Jobless rates in 37 states fell last month, according to federal officials. South Carolina’s rate tied for the 12th-highest unemployment in the country.
Government jobs in South Carolina increased by about 5,100 in October, the second month in a row that category posted the state’s biggest gains. There were a total of about 4,400 more jobs in trade, financial services and education and health services, as well as 900 additional jobs in the construction sector.
But the hospitality industry posted a loss of 400 jobs because of seasonal drops in tourism-related hotel and food services needs. The information sector was also down by about 200 jobs.
Unemployment dropped in 17 of South Carolina’s 46 counties and was lowest in Lexington County, at 6.3 percent. The jobless rate went up in 11 counties and peaked in Allendale County at 16.6 percent. Eighteen counties marked no change.
Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP
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