When College of Charleston economist Frank Hefner heard that the longest recession since World War II officially ended 15 months ago, he jokingly exclaimed he ran down the street naked.
Then he heard that South Carolina's unemployment rate rose to 11 percent in August, up from a newly revised 10.7 percent in July.
"I put my clothes back on," he said, again jokingly.
The spike is a sobering reminder of the lingering and painful impact of the recession, Hefner said.
"This situation is unprecedented," he said. "The experts said technically we are not in a recession, but how does that help us feel any better about not having jobs."
The month-over-month gain was the biggest since April 2009, and the first rise this year. The jobless rate hit an all-time high of 12.5 percent in January.
Both Hefner and the head of the state agency that oversees jobs said the surge in claims and the state's persistently high unemployment rate can be tied to skills not matching job openings.
Plenty of opportunities exist to find work, including 19,000 jobs in the Charleston market, said John L. Finan, executive director of the state Department of Employment and Workforce.
"Our main goal is to match these jobs with qualified job seekers as quickly and effectively as possible," Finan said.
In this recovery, Hefner said, "Unfortunately, your skill may not match the job out there."
No policy will change an out-of-work welder to an accountant or a plumber to a computer technician, he said.
In metro Charleston, the jobless level surged in August to 10 percent, up from 9.4 percent the previous month, as 32,997 people reported they were unable to find a job. That was 2,166 more than in July.
The state's employment picture improved for five straight months before July's flat showing. But in August, the number of unemployed increased by 6,345 over the previous month. Statewide, 236,600 people are out of work and looking for a job.
Hefner said the figures suggest people resumed job hunts after benefits expired. Higher jobless levels generally lag long after a recession has ended, experts say.
"It's a classic jobless recovery," Hefner said. "We're going to be playing catch-up until 2013."
Government hiring across the state posted the biggest gain of 22,300 jobs as schools reopened, but the private sector lost 7,100 jobs in tourism-related fields and professional and business service sectors.
Gains were made in wholesale and retail trade, construction, manufacturing and health-related industries, but they were small and not enough to offset the rise in joblessness.
Rural Marion County in the agricultural Pee Dee region continued to have the state's highest unemployment rate at 19.8 percent while more urban Lexington County near Columbia again posted the lowest rate at 8.6 percent. The national unemployment rate edged up also 0.1 percent in August, to 9.6 percent.