SC's unemployment rate drops

COLUMBIA (WIS) - For the second month in a row, South Carolina's unemployment rate has dropped.

South Carolina's unemployment rate dropped to 12.2% in March from the revised February rate of 12.4%, the South Carolina Employment Security Commission reported today.

February's preliminary rate was revised to 12.4% from 12.5%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the state's labor force at 2,173,260 in March, down 980 over the revised February level. The estimated number of unemployed decreased by 5,687 to 264,452.  The national jobless rate held steady in March at 9.7%.

The non-farm job count increased by 15,900 in March with increases in every major industry division except Manufacturing.  Retail Trade added 3,700 positions in March.  This was followed by increases in Leisure and Hospitality (+4,600), Professional and Business Services (+3,200), Education and Health Services (+800), and Government (+1,100). Construction jobs were up 900 over the month, and Manufacturing showed a small loss of 200 jobs.  The overall job count for March was 15,300 below the year-ago level.

For the second month the state has seen job gains in most industry divisions.  Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics data revealed the number of unemployed declined for two consecutive months.  "We are encouraged by the improvement we have seen over the past couple of months; however, the state's economy remains fragile.

Marion and Allendale counties rank as the worst in the state at 20.7% and 20.6% respectively.  Lexington county's rate is 8.5% which is the lowest in the state along with Aiken county.

We have a ways to go before we can feel confident that unemployment is on a path to sustained recovery" said Samuel R. Foster, Interim Executive Director of the South Carolina Employment Security Commission.

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