South Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.4 percent last month, down two-tenths of a percentage point from February, according to figures released Friday.
The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce reported that the number of those employed in the state last month was slightly more than 1.99 million. That compared to 182,978 unemployed workers, marking the lowest level since October 2008.
College of Charleston economist Frank Hefner called the latest report “good news,” because unemployment fell in every county. At the same time, he noted that there still is a surplus of residual pain left in the labor market.
“We are still not building enough jobs to make up for those lost during the recession and the growth in population,” Hefner said. “The trends are upward and given where we were this is all great news, but it shows a ways to have a healthy economy.”
Economists also have said that the improving jobs market is tied in part to the turnaround in home sales, which helps retailers and other engines of the economy.
South Carolina’s leisure and hospitality industry reported the biggest gain in March, with 9,800 more jobs, as the tourist season geared up. The bulk of the increase was from accommodations and food-service employers.
Employers that posted smaller payrolls for the month were in the construction, education and health sectors, which shed roughly 400 jobs each.
The Palmetto State’s decreasing unemployment rate follows the nationwide trend.
The unemployment rate in the U.S. dropped to 7.6 percent last month, down from 7.7 percent in February.
South Carolina’s March jobless rate was 9/10ths of a percentage point lower than the same month in 2012.
The Charleston region’s jobless number dropped to 6.4 percent last month, from 6.8 in February and down from 7.3 in March 2012.
The region had a net growth of 1,700 jobs compared to March 2012, bringing the number employed workers to 304,600, according to the state.
Marion County had the state’s highest unemployment rate at 16.2 percent. The lowest was in Lexington County, at 6 percent.