South Carolina’s jobless rate ticked up slightly in December as more people saw improvement in the economy and began looking for work.
The jobless rate was 8.4 percent in December, up from 8.3 percent in November, according to the latest report from the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. That’s still significantly lower than the 9.6 percent rate in December 2011.
The labor force – those looking for work and those who are working – grew by 8,536 to 2.15 million, the report showed, suggesting more people in December were optimistic that jobs were coming available and entered the market.
“That’s not a bad sign,” said College of Charleston economist Frank Hefner. “But it makes the unemployment rate a little weird.”
The rise stemmed four months of consecutive unemployment rate drops. November’s 8.3 percent was the lowest since October 2008. The national unemployment rate remained at 7.8 percent in December.
“Typically, we see a small decrease in employment in December because of seasonal declines in the leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and government sectors,” agency director Abraham Turner said. “Nonetheless, I am encouraged as the state’s overall job growth trend throughout 2012 was at a pace similar to historical levels before the recent recession.”
The state’s employment number fell 5,800 to 1.87 million in December from the previous month, the first decline in five months. Still the number of jobs was up 31,500 from a year earlier, the report said.
“I think it’s a pretty good year-end report,” said University of South Carolina economist Joey Von Nessen, noting that the 31,000 jobs was twice the increase from 2010 to 2011.