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South Carolina’s unemployment rate edged upward in April to 11.5 percent, one-tenth of a point above the March rate of 11.4 percent, the State Employment Security Commission reported Friday.
It’s the highest jobless rate in South Carolina since the state started keeping records in 1976.
The old mark of 11.4 percent was reached in March and in January 1983.
The state has the nation’s third-highest unemployment rate. Michigan holds the country’s highest jobless rate at 12.9 percent, followed by Oregon at 12 percent.
The national jobless rate also rose in April, jumping from 8.5 percent in March to 8.9 percent.
In April, Lancaster County’s jobless rate was 19 percent, the same as it was in March. That means almost 1 in 5 people in the county were considered jobless in both March and April.
Lancaster County has the sixth-highest unemployment rate in the state.
Neighboring Chester County now has the highest percentage of unemployed residents at 21.8 percent, a .04 percent increase from March.
Chester County was previously ranked second for unemployment, behind Allendale County.
According to the State Employment Security Commission, the state’s labor force rose nearly 14,000 to 2,201,031 in April, and the number of unemployed rose 2,700 to 252,882.
The number of non-farm jobs rose for the second month in a row, gaining 9,700 in April to reach a total of 1,861,400. Most of the gains were seasonal in nature as warmer weather boosted jobs in leisure and hospitality by 6,700, professional and business services by 4,800 and retail trade by 800.
On the down side, manufacturing and construction continued their downward spiral losing 1,400 and 900 jobs, respectively, giving further evidence that the recession is not over.
The overall job count for April was almost 89,000 jobs below a year ago.
Roosevelt T. Halley, executive director of the employment commission, said the recent job gains are a welcome sign that has helped slow the pace of the recessionary trend. He cautioned, however, that we are not “out of the woods” yet, and that the state will likely see higher jobless rates before the economy begins to improve.