COLUMBIA, South Carolina — South Carolina's unemployment fell to 7.5 percent during the month of October, the state's lowest rate in five years and one of the largest month-to-month drops in the country, state officials said Friday.
The rate was the lowest mark for South Carolina since September 2008, when state unemployment was 7.3 percent, according to the Department of Employment and Workforce.
Over the next few years, the state's jobless rate would climb as the country began to feel effects from the national financial crisis. South Carolina's jobless rate peaked at 12.5 percent in January 2010, when the state frequently had one of the top three highest jobless rates in the country.
In September, South Carolina's unemployment was 7.9 percent, marking the first time in five years the jobless rate had dipped below 8 percent. In the month since, the 0.4 percentage-point fall tied with Missouri for the biggest monthly drop, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
State officials also noted that last month's 7.5 percent figure was the closest that South Carolina's jobless rate had been to the national rate since September 2002. In October, national unemployment was estimated at 7.3 percent, up slightly from September's rate of 7.2 percent.
South Carolina's rate was tied with Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania for 17th-highest in the country. Nevada had the country's highest unemployment, at 9.3 percent.
On Friday, state officials hailed the drop as a boon for South Carolina's economy, citing combined gains in employment sectors including manufacturing, construction and education of 6,200 jobs. In a statement, Gov. Nikki Haley said the state should be proud but added that jobless numbers needed to continue to fall.
"The truth is we're just getting started — and nowhere in the country will there be a bigger push to put people back to work and keep driving the unemployment number down than what will keep happening in South Carolina," the Republican said.
Since October 2012, there are nearly 27,000 fewer people among the unemployed. Nearly 18,000 of those people found jobs, the state agency said, while nearly 9,200 left the labor force.
Jobs in the professional and business services and hospitality sectors fell by a combined total of 1,800.
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