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SC Labor Participation Rate Hits Record Low



South Carolina’s labor participation rate – or the number of working age persons who are either employed or looking for a job – fell to 58.6 percent in February, the lowest level on record.

It’s a dismal mark the Palmetto State has hit twice before (last November and last December) – and a sign of the extent to which the so-called “recovery” continues to leave South Carolinians behind.

Nationally, the labor participation rate fell to 63.3 percent in March – a thirty-four-year low. Of course that figure looks positively rosy compared to South Carolina’s anemic data. New labor participation numbers¬†will be available later this week, although the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) does not publicly release this information.

FITS obtained the data by submitting a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Labor participation in South Carolina rose steadily during the first six months of S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s term in 2011 – climbing to 60.9 percent in June 2011 – however it has been sliding precipitously since then.

Officially, South Carolina’s unemployment rate stands at 8.6 percent – roughly a percentage point higher than the national average. Of course when you consider that our participation rate is so much lower than the national average, the real jobs gap between the Palmetto State and the rest of the country is likely much higher.