South Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.2% in February from 5.3% in January, according to estimates from the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, with the state’s leisure and hospitality industry continuing to lose jobs.
DEW also announced that the state’s requirement of two weekly work searches to maintain eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits is being reinstated after being suspended as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the state in March 2020.
“Now a year later, as more and more South Carolinians are returning to work and the unemployment rate is consistently dropping, it is time to reinstate the work search requirement in order to help employers and job seekers connect,” Dan Ellzey, DEW executive director, said in a news release. “We are and will continue to communicate directly with claimants on this upcoming change and have provided video and PDF tutorial resources on our website, social media and on our YouTube page.”
Ellzey said that while 125,000 S.C. residents receive unemployment benefits each week, employers have around 87,000 open positions.
Beginning the week of April 18, claimants will be required to certify on weekly claims the reason they remain unemployed and complete two job searches in the SC Works Online Services (SCWOS) portal, available online and via smartphone app.
“It is imperative that the work searches are conducted while they are logged into their account to ensure that the SCWOS system confirms with the claimant system that the individual has completed this requirement to remain eligible for benefits,” Ellzey said.
DEW’s monthly survey of households estimated the number of South Carolinians working increased to 2,253,199, an increase of 17,896 people from January 2021 and a decrease of 46,142 from February 2020.
Unemployment estimates decreased to 124,099 people, down 1,345 from January 2021 but up 58,119 from February 2020. The state’s estimated labor force, or people working plus unemployed people looking for work, increased to 2,377,298, up 16,551 people from January 2021 and 11,997 from February 2020.
Nationally, the unemployment rate dropped to 6.2% in February from 6.3% in January.
S.C. industries reporting gains included transportation and utilities, which added 6,200 jobs, construction (2,200) and professional and business services (1,300). The leisure and hospitality industry lost 2,400 jobs, while government lost 500 and the information industry lost 200.
Statewide, 6,300 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs were added from January to February, though 85,100 have been lost since February 2021. The Columbia metropolitan statistical area added 6,400 jobs month-to-month but has lost 14,200 jobs during the 12-month period.
The Charleston/North Charleston MSA lost 200 jobs from January to February and has lost 19,400 since February 2020. Greenville/Anderson/Mauldin added 21,000 jobs for the month and has lost 18,900 for the year, while Spartanburg added 1,300 jobs month-to-month and has lost 3,700 since February 2020.i