Local situation

A breakdown of the jobless situation in the tri-county region:

Charleston County

January: 7.3% December: 7.1% January 2012: 7.9%

Berkeley County

January: 7.7% December: 7.5% January 2012: 8.7%

Dorchester County

January: 7.2% December: 7.0% January 2012: 7.4%

Source: S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce

South Carolina’s jobless rate ticked up in January from December, but more residents found jobs compared to the start of 2012, a new report said Monday.

The state Department of Employment and Workforce reported that the jobless rate increased to 8.7 percent in January compared to a revised 8.6 percent rate in December.

The Charleston metro region had about 24,000 unemployed workers in January for a jobless rate of 7.3 percent, up from 7.1 percent from the previous month. The rate was 7.9 in January 2012.

State employment officials said the employment decline between December and January was “a typical trend” due to seasonal layoffs and school closings between terms. Nationally, the unemployment rate rose slightly to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent over the same period.

In South Carolina, the number of employed persons increased to 1,987,765 in January, and the unemployed the same month numbered 188,496, according to the report. Compared to January 2012, the seasonally adjusted number of employment workers in the first month of this year increased by 26,840, or more than 1 percent.

College of Charleston economist Frank Hefner said the year-over-year jobs comparison remains the more important number to watch.

“It’s not going to be a straight line growth anymore. There will be ups and downs,” he said. “If we have back-to-back where nothing is growing, there will be a sense of maybe we should have not been that optimistic.”

Hefner added that the country still has a lot of room for growth in terms of making up for losses from the recession.

“We’re growing, and it will be a while before we get there,” he said.

South Carolina ended 2012 with an 8.4 percent jobless rate, more than a percentage point lower than 2011. Marion County had the state’s highest unemployment rate at 19.2 percent. Lexington County had the lowest at 6.8 percent.

The state will release its February jobless report on March 29.

Reach Tyrone Richardson at 843-937-5550 and follow him on Twitter @tyrichardsonPC.