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ICYMI: Post and Courier: SC jobless rate reaches ‘astounding’ low; Charleston area tied for lowest rate in US

ICYMI: Today it was announced that the jobless rate in South Carolina has reached an ‘astounding’ low rate of 2.6 percent, and that the Charleston area currently has an unemployment rate of just 1.5 percent, which is tied for the lowest unemployment rate in the COUNTRY. Greenville, Hilton Head, and Spartanburg tied for the 2nd lowest unemployment rate in the country at 1.6 percent.

It is clear that the policies implemented by President Trump and Republican leadership are continuing to deliver for everyday South Carolinians. On top of these ‘astounding’ stats, South Carolinians have also seen over 116,000 new jobs created, an average tax cut of $1,341.00, and over 20,000 new manufacturing jobs since President Trump took office.

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SC jobless rate reaches ‘astounding’ low; Charleston area tied for lowest rate in US
Emily Williams
Post and Courier
November 19, 2019

How low can it go?

Joblessness in South Carolina reached another all-time low last month, dropping to 2.6 percent, according to new data released Tuesday by the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.

“That’s almost unfathomable for South Carolina,” said Laura Ullrich, a regional economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

October’s rate fell compared to September’s record low of 2.9 percent. The state’s jobless rate has dropped almost a full percentage point since June, and the current figure is 1 percent lower than the national rate of 3.6 percent.

On a list released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics which ranked U.S. metro areas based on jobless rates, South Carolina metros took nearly all of the top spots. Charleston is tied for the lowest rate along with Ames, a city in central Iowa.

Both Charleston and Ames had an unemployment rate of 1.5 percent in September, and three South Carolina metro areas were tied for the second-lowest rate of 1.6 percent: Greenville, Hilton Head and Spartanburg.

Just behind them, Columbia, S.C. and Columbia, Mo. both saw rates of 1.7 percent.

It’s difficult to say whether the rate could drop any lower, Ullrich said, particularly since South Carolina has not had a history of posting such low figures. Typically, natural resource-rich states like the Dakotas and Montana have held that distinction.

During the recession, North Dakota’s jobless rate never topped 4.3 percent while South Carolina’s peaked in the double digits, at 12 percent. And though the current rate is among the lowest in the country — right now, it’s tied with three other states for the third-lowest rate in the U.S. — September was the first time in the state’s history that unemployment was below 3 percent.

South Carolina’s labor force is growing more rapidly than most areas. It’s expanded by 2.2 percent in the last year compared to 1 percent in the U.S.

That growth, Ullrich said, comes from both people moving into the state and residents entering the workforce such as young adults, people coming out of retirement or others securing jobs after a hiatus from working.

While manufacturing employment has been somewhat soft nationwide, with just 0.4 percent growth compared to last October, South Carolina has added 6,700 manufacturing jobs. That’s a year-over-year growth rate of 2.7 percent.


S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce director Dan Ellzey described the October report as “astounding” in a statement Tuesday. Though the historically low rate bodes well for employees, Ellzey said that the “news is split” for employers. As the jobless rate has dipped lower, the labor market has tightened, making it increasingly difficult for companies to compete for talent.

In a October business conditions report for the Carolinas compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, the index for the availability of skilled workers was one of the lowest this year at -16.

The indexes are equal to the percentage of firms that reported increases in a category minus the firms that reported decreases. Most categories, like wages, have shown positive growth, but worker availability has been in the negatives all year.

Ullrich also noted that unemployment insurance claims in South Carolina have reached an extreme low, which indicates that few employees have been let go in recent weeks for economic reasons.

In October, just 9,500 such claims were filed, the lowest monthly figure since 1974. Taking into account the population growth since then — about 75 percent fewer people lived in the state at that time — that number is “very low,” she said.

Employers are seeing savings from dropping unemployment tax rates which are expected to decrease by an average of 34 percent next year, the Department of Employment and Workforce announced earlier this month. The decreases are expected to yield savings for businesses of about $121 million.

Read the full Post and Courier article here.

Media Contact: Joe Jackson-