The Palmetto State's unemployment rate dropped to 8.9 percent in March, according to numbers released today.
This marks the first time South Carolina's unemployment rate has dipped below 9.0 percent in more than three years. The rate dropped from 9.1 percent in February, according to S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce data.
“We are pleased with the unemployment rate’s continued decline. Our state hasn’t experienced an unemployment rate less than 9 percent since 2008, and we are excited that this means unemployed South Carolinians are finding jobs.” said SC Department of Employment and Workforce Executive Director Abraham J. Turner in a statement released with the data on the unemployment rate.
“There is still much work to be done in our great state, but today’s drop indicates that businesses in South Carolina along with the Department of Employment and Workforce are keenly focused on putting South Carolinians to work.”
At a press conference held to announce the new jobs numbers at Stier Building Supply in Irmo on Friday S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley echoed Turner's comments.
"I hope everybody does today is celebrate the fact that while 8.9 is not low enough, we are not satisfied yet, it is something to be said that we haven't seen this in three and a half years, and we're moving in the right direction," Haley said. "We are now the one everyone is looking at for how to bring business. Not bring it from one state to the other, but how to bring it from overseas to South Carolina."
"And it's through a simple metrics that we will continue to do," she added. "Keep the cost of doing business low; keep the regulators at bay, make sure that we have a trained workforce, that's why you see us doing the new training with ACT and making sure that the workers are better trained for these jobs that we're bringing in; and continuing to be one of the lowest unionized states in the country."
March also marked the eighth consecutive month the state's unemployment rate has declined. However South Carolina's unemployment rate remains higher than the national rate of 8.2 percent.
According to SCDEW, compared with March 2011, the state has added 32,871 jobs while the number of people unemployed has dropped by 30, 950. The department reports that 17,100 non-farm jobs were created in March 2012, including more than 8,400 leisure and hospitality jobs; 3,800 trade, transportation and utilities jobs; more than 2,600 professional and business services jobs; more than 1,400 government jobs, largely from the local government sector; more than 600 manufacturing jobs; and more than 200 construction jobs.
The state economy also lost 900 education and health services jobs, mostly from the health care and social assistance industries, according to SCDEW.
The department also reports that the number of online job ads in the state increased by approximately 1,600 from February to March to 52,500. The number of job seekers per job opening also decreased from 3.9 job seekers per opening to 3.7 job seekers per opening over the same period.