SC jobless rate still reflects very stagnant economy

South Carolina’s jobless rate edged up in September following a two-month drop. Unemployment was 11.6 percent in September, up from 11.4 percent in August, a revised figure. It topped 12.1 percent in June.
The Employment Security Commission says last month’s was the fifth highest in the US. the national rate was 9.8 percent in September. The state’s labor force continued to shrink, falling slightly to 2.17 million. The number of unemployed increased by 3,570 to 251,975. Commission Deputy Director Alan Larson says the state still has has 68,700 fewer jobs than one year ago.
Larson says he’s no economist but he believes the time has come for the picture to gradually get better. 
“There are people who say if we haven’t bottomed out, we’re very close to it,” Larson says.  “I hope that’s true.  It may be a slow and painful recovery but I’m an optimist.  But the critical piece of this whole equation is the recruitment of jobs.” 
South Carolina added 2,500 jobs in September over August, including government and educational/health services as schools reopened following the summer break. Job losses included those in the tourism/hospitality industry, as well as construction and financial.
Lexington County again posted the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 8.3 percent, up from 8.1 percent.
This month’s job report is Employment Security Commission Director Ted Halley’s last report to the people of South Carolina. He will retire November 8th after 38 years with the department. Samuel Foster, a former ESC Commissioner and state lawmaker  is interim director.
Lt. Governor Andre Bauer says more than 100,000 residents have exhausted their benefits in recent months.
Lawmakers return to the Statehouse Tuesday for a special one-day session to consider a law change that will qualify jobless workers for an extended 20 weeks of federal unemployment benefits. Approximately 7,000 South Carolinians lost their benefits Saturday when state benefits ended.