Job numbers at record high, Lexington County has lowest unemployment rate

More people in South Carolina than ever were working at the end of January, but the rate of unemployment rose.

That information comes from the monthly report issued Monday by Kristin Coulter of the S.C. Department of Employment Workforce.

The number of people working rose by 9,373 in January from December 2016 to more than 2.2 million people. The number of employed people is a new record. But the labor force increased by 12,614. The unemployment rate rose 0.1 percent to 4.4 percent in January from 4.3 percent in December 2016. The number of unemployed increased by 3,241, to 101,466 people, according the SC DEW data released Monday.

Lexington County had the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 3.9 percent. That’s up from 3.3 percent in December. About 500 more people in Lexington County entered the workforce in January. At the end of January 2016, Lexington County’s unemployment rate was 4.5 percent. About 2,700 more people (141,478) were working in the county at the end of January than were working a year ago.

Richland County was ranked number 14 in unemployment of South Carolina’s 46 counties. Which means Richland County had a lower unemployment rate than 32 other counties.

Statewide, in the last 12 months, employment gains totaled 42,022 and unemployment decreased by 23,683. Since January 2016, the labor force has grown by 18,339.

Construction jobs were up by 7,100 (or almost 8 percent) in January compared to January 2016. Construction showed the biggest increase in employment on a year-to-year comparison.
Nationally, January’s unemployment rate was 4.8 percent, up from 4.7 percent in December 2016, but jobs numbers have been better than expected.