December chills declining trend in states jobless rate
South Carolina ended 2012 with an 8.4 percent jobless rate, more than a percentage point lower from 2011, according to a new government report Friday.
The jobless rate has been drifting lower in South Carolina for the past year. Last month it rose in most counties, including the three that make up the Charleston region.
Dec. 2011: 7.4%
Dec. 2011: 8.6%
Dec. 2011: 7.5%
Dept. of Employment and Workforce
The December numbers from the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce showed the state’s jobless rate edged up by a tenth of a point from November, ending four months of consecutive declines. The rate was 9.6 percent in December 2011.
Nationally, the unemployment rate remained at 7.8 percent.
Steve Slifer, a Charleston-based economist and owner of NumberNomics, said the year-over-year trends are more important than monthly shifts. He said the slight increase is “nothing to get excited about.”
“The trend is the rate is going down, and that’s not always a straight line. We do have wiggles, and that’s what this is,” Slifer said.
The Department of Employment and Workforce said the December uptick was attributed in part to a seasonal drop of nearly 6,000 jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry. The government sector also dropped by 2,300 jobs, and professional and business services went down by 1,700.
“Typically, we see a small decrease in employment in December because of seasonal declines” in those three sectors, said Abraham Turner, head of the state’s jobs department. “Nonetheless, I am encouraged as the state’s overall job-growth trend throughout 2012 was at a pace similar to historical levels before the recent recession.”
While in the Lowcountry on Friday, Gov. Nikki Haley addressed the jobs report.
“It means we need more announcements,” she said.
Haley said the state has been making a couple of economic development announcements every week, “but our goal is to make sure that everybody who wants a job has a job.”
Last month, the number of employed workers in the state rose by 5,325 to almost 1,97 million. The number of unemployed grew since November by 3,211 to 180,032 in December.
The labor force — the number of people who are employed or actively looking for work — expanded by 8,536 to about 2.15 million, the agency said.
Some of the largest industries growing jobs are transportation, education, health services, construction and financial institutions, officials said.
The Charleston region also had a slight increase in unemployment compared to November. Its jobless figure jumped from 6.8 percent in November to 7.1 percent last month. A year ago the rate was 7.7 percent.
Marion County had the highest unemployment rate, at 17.2 percent. Lexington County had the lowest, at 6.6 percent.
The Associated Press and Brendan Kearney of The Post and Courier contributed to this story. Reach Tyrone Richardson at 843-937-5550 and follow him on Twitter @tyrichardsonPC.