South Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped to 9.3 percent in January from a seasonally-adjusted 9.6 rate the previous month, according to statistics released Tuesday by the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW).

However, the drop was attributable exclusively to the fact that an estimated 8,000 people gave up their search for gainful employment.

Also, 28 of the state’s 46 counties saw unemployment increases.

South Carolina’s jobless rate remains the nation’s seventh-highest, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics -l one percent higher than the national rate of 8.3 percent. The state’s underemployment rate – measured quarterly – is currently 18.4 percent.

Currently, an estimated 200,000 South Carolinians are unemployed – down from a peak of 255,000 in December 2009. According to the BLS, there were 1,846,400 jobs in South Carolina in January 2012 – down from a peak of 1,958,700 in January 2008.