October 21, 2008
South Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped slightly to 7.3% in September after reaching a 15-year high of 7.6% in August, the State Employment Security Commission reported today. According to Roosevelt T. Halley, Executive Director of the Commission, the drop in the unemployment rate is largely due to discouraged unemployed job seekers quitting their job searches and leaving the labor force. “There’s very little positive news regarding the national or state economy right now,” Halley said. The state’s labor force decreased nearly 6,000 in September to 2,159,180, while the number of unemployed declined 6,500 to 157,047. The national unemployment rate held steady at 6.1% in September.
The number of jobs in South Carolina fell 14,400 over the month, the largest September decrease on record. All major industry sectors lost jobs in September, except Education and Health Services (+2,100) and Government (+4,900). The gains were the result of state, local, and private schools re-staffing for the fall term. On the downside, Leisure and Hospitality posted a seasonal loss of 11,100 as the tourist season began to wind down. Notable losses were also experienced in Retail Trade (-3,300), Manufacturing (-2,300), Professional and Business Services (-1,300), Financial Activities (-900), and Construction (-700). Construction jobs have declined for the last eleven consecutive months. The overall job count, at 1,950,565 in September, was nearly 13,000 below the year-ago figure. This marks the second month in a row that the number of jobs in the state has fallen below year-ago levels.
“There is not a lot to be optimistic about right now,” Halley said. “The recent crisis in the financial markets occurred after our survey week in September, so the impact will not be reflected in our figures until the October and November data are released.”