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S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s abysmal 2011 is seeping over into 2012 … except on the employment front.

Haley’s administration got some good news on Tuesday when the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) reported that the state’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate fell from 9.9 percent in November to 9.5 percent in December. That’s the lowest unemployment rate in South Carolina since December 2008 – when the key economic indicator stood at 9.2 percent.

Nationally, the unemployment rate fell from 8.7 to 8.5 percent in December. The nation’s underemployment rate – a broader, more accurate measure of joblessness – also ticked down from 15.6 to 15.2 percent. South Carolina’s underemployment rate – measured quarterly – is currently 18.4 percent.

According to SCDEW, the state actually shed 3,800 jobs last month – but the rate dropped because fewer people were seeking work. The state’s economy added 17,800 jobs on the year – which is obviously positive news, but nowhere near the level of employment growth necessary to restore the jobs lost during the recession.

All told, South Carolina’s private sector shed 130,000  jobs during the recession – although the state added more than 25,000 government positions over that same time period.