For the first time in 10 months, the S.C. unemployment rate increased in May, according to a report issued by the state Department of Employment and Workforce.
Rising to 9.1 percent from 8.8 percent in April, the state's unemployment rate swelled as the ranks of the unemployed rose to 195,905, up 5,861 people from April. At the same time the total number of people employed in South Carolina dropped by 3,886 to a total of 1,957,360.
“Despite our unemployment rate edging up this month, more than 24,000 of our fellow citizens have found jobs in the past year,” said Abraham J. Turner, executive director of the SCDEW. “Historically, South Carolina’s unemployment rate fluctuations have mirrored the movements of the national rate, and this month is no exception. We are encouraged that people are entering the labor force searching for employment, and DEW continues to remain focused on putting South Carolinians back to work.”
Nationally the unemployment rate also ticked up from 8.1 percent to 8.2 percent. Approximately 642,000 people joined the workforce nationwide in May, according to the report.
Despite the higher unemployment rate, several sectors of South Carolina's non-farm related economy saw job increases with the state gaining a total of 16,800 in May 2012. The areas with the biggest gains were Trade, Transportation and Utilities with 4,700 new jobs; Professional and Business Services also with 4,700 new jobs; and Leisure and Hospitality with 3,700 new jobs.
Several other sectors also added jobs including Construction (1,400), Education and Health Services (1,100) and Financial Activities (1,000). The only sector to lose jobs in May was manufacturing, which saw a decrease of about 200 jobs.
The unemployment rate increased in every South Carolina county except York and Marlboro counties, where it dropped 1 percent and .7 percent respectively.
In the Charleston Metropolitan Area the overall unemployment rate increased to 7.9 percent in May from 7 percent in April. Within the Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester tri-county area Berkeley County saw the sharpest change increasing to 8.5 percent up from 7.4 percent in April. Charleston and Dorchester counties' unemployment rates each increased — to 7.8 percent from 6.9 percent in Charleston County, and to 7.7 percent from 6.9 percent in Dorchester County.
The Columbia Metropolitan Area also saw a .9 percentage-point increase in overall unemployment to 8.4 percent up from 7.5 percent in April. The unemployment rate in Lexington County increased to 7.3 percent, up from 6.6 percent in April. In Richland County the rate climbed to 8.9 percent from 7.7 percent in April.
The Greenville Metropolitan Area unemployment rate rose 1 percentage-point to 8 percent, up from 7 percent in April. In Greenville County the rate rose to 7.6 percent, up from 6.7 in April. The rate in Pickens County increased to 8.5 percent, up from 7.4 percent in April.
The highest unemployment rate in the state came in Marion County where it sits at 17.1 percent, up from 16.8 percent in April.