South Carolina unemployment drops for eighth consecutive month, to a 3-year low

South Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped below 9 percent in March, marking the lowest rate in three years.

South Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped below 9 percent in March, marking the lowest rate in three years.

Among the state’s metropolitan areas Charleston and Greenville had the lowest rates, at 7.1 percent each.

The statewide unemployment rate, at 8.9 percent, remained higher than the nation’s in March, but Palmetto State joblessness has been declining for eight consecutive months.

Leisure and hospitality jobs accounted for about half the jobs gains from February to March.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nationwide unemployment held steady at 8.2 percent last month while the rate in South Carolina and 29 other states dipped.

Southern states showed the largest employment gains, while the midwest continued to have the lowest unemployment.

In February, South Carolina’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.1 percent, down from 9.3 percent in January. The Department of Employment and Workforce said February’s increase of 9,864 jobs was the largest month-to-month gain since 1976.

Joblessness in South Carolina varies tremendously from county to county.

Some hard-hit rural counties had jobless rates of 15 percent or more in March, while urban areas fared much better. Charleston and Dorchester were among four counties with unemployment rates at or below 7 percent. Berkeley County’s rate was 7.7 percent.