Ask someone holding one of the 2,935 new jobs South Carolina added between March and April, and he’ll tell you things are looking up.
Ask one of the 174,352 who are still unemployed and he’ll likely have a tale of woe.
More work is needed before the economy can be pronounced healthy, but conditions are happily trending that way all across the state.
This is the 10th consecutive monthly increase in jobs for South Carolina, and the largest month-to-month drop in the unemployment rate since May 1987.
Even those who are still searching for jobs can take heart from the state’s progress.
And the Lowcountry’s: Charleston County has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state at 5.8 percent, Dorchester’s rate is 6.1 percent and Berkeley County’s is 6.3 percent — all better than the state’s 8 percent jobless rate.
Gov. Nikki Haley is justifiably enthusiastic. “There’s no doubt that South Carolina is on the move again,” she said.
Most of April’s growth was in the service-providing industries, with leisure and hospitality leading the way.
Retail, professional and business services, transportation, construction, education and health services and financial activities also grew.
Only manufacturing jobs were lost — 900 of them. But even with that loss, the state still had 1,000 more manufacturing jobs this April than last.
In other good news, construction jobs were up 3,000 from a year ago — a welcome sign that consumer confidence is building in the new housing market.
Curiously, South Carolina, with its small-government leadership, gained 5,900 government jobs in the past year.
South Carolina, with higher unemployment than all but 18 states, still has distance to go to catch up with the nation’s jobless rate of 7.5 percent, which is also decreasing.
But it is heartening that the unemployment rate for every county in the Palmetto State dropped from March to April — and that the unemployment rate this April is lower than it was a year ago in all 46 counties.
Those numbers recall the governor’s comments, in this year’s State of the State speech, that every county but one had seen new jobs since 2011 — a total of 6,300 in rural South Carolina.
Gov. Haley has made broad-based economic development a hallmark of her administration. May the good work continue.
Of course, the improving job market can’t be primarily attributed to the efforts of state government — even an administration that declares “jobs, jobs, jobs” as its central theme and focus. Nevertheless, it’s good to know the state’s leadership is on the case.
The economic recovery has been painfully slow in the nation and the state, and every month that sees better conditions is a month to celebrate.