South Carolina's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent in March. The last time it had been that low, Barack Obama was battling Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination; Mark Sanford was South Carolina's governor; Jim DeMint, Henry Brown, Gresham Barrett, Bob Inglis and John Spratt were members of our state's congressional delegation; Tim Scott was chairman of Charleston County Council; Tommy Bowden was Clemson's football coach and Jadeveon Clowney was a freshman at Rock Hill's South Pointe High School.

OK, so that was only six years ago - March of 2008.

But as the examples above show, a lot can change in a relatively short amount of time.

One priority that shouldn't change, though, is the persisting - and evidently productive - effort to make South Carolina a state where the private sector can thrive, delivering jobs in the prosperity-building process.

Unfortunately, the state Board of Economic Advisors points out that the ongoing decline in the unemployment level is partially due to a decline in the number of people in the labor force.

That same sad factor applies in the lowering of the national unemployment rate over the last few years. The Great Recession hit the labor market so hard that many long-time unemployed Americans have given up on finding work. That factor, along with an aging population, contributes to a downward national labor-participation rate that extends to our state.

Still, March's 5.5 percent unemployment rate for South Carolina beats the heck out of the painful 12.5 percent peak of January 2010.

Meanwhile, though the jobless level in Charleston County climbed slightly from 4.3 percent in February to 4.4 percent in March, that was still the lowest level in the state - and much lower than the 5.9 percent of March 2013.

The unemployment rate for the Charleston metro region, which includes Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley counties, also remained low at 4.6 percent, though higher than the 4.4 percent mark in February.

The continuing challenge for elected officials in Columbia and throughout the state is to make South Carolina an inviting place to do business - and to create jobs - with balanced, sustainable incentives.

And if that mission succeeds, jobs numbers will just keep getting better.