Georgia and South Carolina both see declines in unemployment

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 2:26 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 16, 2021 at 2:15 PM EDT
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ATLANTA (WRDW/WAGT) - The Georgia Department of Labor announced that Georgia’s unemployment rate dropped 0.3 percentage points to reach 4.5 percent in March while the state saw a significant increase in the number of jobs.

“March is yet another month where we have seen job growth throughout the state,” Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said. “EmployGeorgia is showing triple the amount of job listings that we were seeing at the start of pandemic. Georgia has gained a vast majority of the jobs that were lost since March of last year, and we continue to remain strong in economic growth and business development.”

Jobs in March increased by 21,800, reaching a total of 4.486 million. That number is down 151,000 compared to this same time last year. The job total listed online at EmployGeorgia is showing 223,000 job listings - triple the amount of the 70,000 listings in March of 2020.

Of the more than 223,000 jobs currently listed on EmployGeorgia, over half of them advertise annual salaries over $40,000.

In many cases, employers are willing to train quality candidates and assist with attainment of additional credentials.

The sectors with the most over-the-month job gains included:

  • Administrative and support services, 3,500
  • Health care, 2,400
  • Local government, 1,800
  • Finance and insurance, 1,700
  • Professional, scientific and technical services, 1,700.

In March, the number of employed Georgians was up 29,854 to reach a total of 4.93 million, and the number of employed was up by 564,000 since April. Georgia’s labor force in March saw an increase of 15,762, reaching a total of 5.16 million.

Across the river in South Carolina

South Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped slightly in March, Department of Employment and Workforce officials said Friday, days ahead of a big change those filing claims for unemployment benefits will face.

The state’s unemployment rate fell to 5.1% in March, down from 5.2% in February.

Department Executive Director Dan Ellzey said his agency continues “to be encouraged by the progress being made in the state’s economic recovery” as South Carolinians return to work.

“Over the past few months, we have moved our focus to filling the open and posted jobs in the state,” Ellzey said.

Despite the slow drop in the unemployment rate over the past few months, South Carolina says the number of people who filed their first unemployment claims rose for the fifth straight week.

For the week ending Saturday, the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce recorded 5,045 initial unemployment claims. That’s an increase of 76 over the 4,969 reported for the previous week.

It’s the first time the state recorded more than 5,000 new claims since the week ending March 6.

Ellzey said there are 85,000 job openings posted across South Carolina while approximately 116,000 people are receiving unemployment benefits each week.

“That really does not make sense, and we have to get people to start looking for jobs,” he said.

To that end, agency officials say a change is coming quickly.

Ellzey said the agency waived the work search requirement, which is part of state regulation, at the beginning of the pandemic. The waiving of the requirement was made to would-be workers and employers “to navigate through COVID-19.” But he now says it is time to reactivate the requirement.

Beginning Sunday, the state will reinstate the two weekly work search requirements for claimants.

Each week, claimants will need to complete two tasks to remain eligible for UI benefits:

If a claimant can certify their claim each week, they can complete the work searches.

“We have made it clear to claimants, that if they do not perform the two work searches for a claim week, they will not be paid unemployment benefits. It is as simple as that,” Ellzey said.

He called it “a positive step forward” that will bring employers and job seekers together.

February’s 5.2% seasonally adjusted unemployment rate marked a slight drop from January’s 5.3% rate. SCDEW reported a 5.6% rate in December.

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