FILE - South Carolina welcome sign

A sign welcomes travelers to South Carolina.

(The Center Square) – South Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.2% in October, less than two percentage points higher than the historic low unemployment rate of 2.4% in January and well below the national average.

From September to October, South Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped by one percentage point, from 5.2% to 4.2%. The national unemployment rate declined from 7.9% in September to 6.9% in October.

“October’s employment situation is a huge stepping stone in the economic recovery process for South Carolina,” said Dan Ellzey, executive director of the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW), in a statement. “This development indicates a massive shift in South Carolinians going back to work.”

A total of 3,501 new unemployment claims were filed last week. SCDEW has distributed more than $4.5 billion in combined federal and state unemployment benefits since March. The average weekly benefit is about $227.

About 28,000 South Carolinians found jobs during the month of October, reflecting a one percentage point change from the September unemployment rate.

“These people left the ranks of the unemployed because they got a job, not because they gave up on looking for a job,” Ellzey said.

Ellzey encouraged South Carolinians who remain unemployed not to give up searching for jobs. More than 81,000 job openings are posted on the SC Works Online Services portal.

“The reality is, opportunity is knocking and the partners at SC Works centers statewide are prepared and ready to help job seekers fill these open positions,” Ellzey said.

The leisure and hospitality industry – one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic – saw an increase of nearly 7,000 jobs in October. Education and health services jobs, financial services and construction jobs also saw significant job increases.

Staff Reporter

Vivian Jones reports on Tennessee and South Carolina for The Center Square. Her writing has appeared in the Detroit News, The Hill, and publications of The Heartland Institute.