The September employment report for South Carolina is encouraging with an addition of 24,800 jobs, but concerns still remain with COVID-19 and also the pace of job recovery across workers' educational attainment levels.
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Regional Economist Laura Ullrich, based in Charlotte, provided analysis of South Carolina's official September employment report from the U.S. Department of Labor on a Tuesday conference call with two state media outlets, including The Sumter Item.
After losing 272,700 jobs in April from the onset of the pandemic, the state continues the long recovery process, but its rebound has been better than the U.S. as a whole, Ullrich said.
With the addition of 24,800 jobs in September, about 193,800 jobs have been added back for five months and the net loss is down to 78,900, according to the monthly payroll employment report survey. That translates to about 71.1% of jobs returning with 28.9% still missing.
Total U.S. gains don't quite meet that mark with about 9 million jobs still missing. In April, the U.S. initially lost 20.5 million jobs.
September job growth in South Carolina represented the state's highest monthly gains since June, when the recovery was in its early stages.
Job growth occurred in every industry sector during the month, except the government sector which lost 2,600 jobs. Highlighted sectors for gains last month included professional and business services (+4,900), manufacturing (+3,600) and leisure and hospitality (+8,200).
In a separate survey report, South Carolina's unemployment rate decreased from 6.4% in August to 5.1% in September, but Ullrich said that was largely because of a significant decrease in the state's labor force, including individuals who are actually searching for work.
Locally, Sumter County's unemployment rate was 5.6%. Clarendon County stood at 5.3%, and Lee had the highest area jobless rate at 6.3%.
The monthly national rate was 7.9%. A broader measure of U.S. unemployment to include individuals marginally attached to the labor force, plus people working only part time for economic reasons, was 12.8%.
Other research illustrates "unevenness in the recovery," Ullrich said.
Currently, there is a big divide in online job postings based on educational attainment requirements, she said. Research shows postings in the state for applicants with extensive education, to include a college degree, are only down 1.4% since January and pre-COVID-19. However, job postings for positions requiring only minimal education are down 33.1% in the state since January.
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