Berkeley County saw a drop in its unemployment rate during the last month according to the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce.

The county’s unemployment rate of 2.6 percent in August was an incremental decline compared to previous month’s 2.9 percent, considered full employment by most industry leaders.

The county jobless rate has hovered around the 3 percent mark for the last year, rising only to 3.2 percent in February.

In fact, the county jobless rate has outperformed both the state and the rest of the country consistently for the last year.

The state’s unemployment rate was 3.2 percent in August and the U.S. unemployment rate stood at 3.7 percent.

“South Carolina’s numbers continue to be strong as the unemployment rate drops and the number of individuals working consistently reaches new records,” said Dan Ellzey, executive director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.

“While this is great news for the state, it creates challenges for employers in filling open jobs. Fortunately, employers in this tight labor market have incentives to hire individuals who are considered at-risk or have had challenges with employment.”

According to DEW, Berkeley County has a labor force of 104,417 people, that’s down slightly from the previous month of 105,758 but higher than last year’s 101,514 labor force estimate.

“The Federal Bonding Program provided through our agency, offers businesses insurance in the form of $5,000-$25,000 fidelity bond coverage to protect employers,” Ellzey said. “It is no cost to the business or the worker and requires no paperwork to become insured. This program gives those employers an incentive that protects their assets when hiring at-risk job applicants.”

Next door in Dorchester County, the August unemployment rate of 2.6 percent mirrored Berkeley County, but it also showed a much smaller labor pool of 77,473.

Dorchester County’s jobless rate was 2.9 percent in July and 3.2 percent in August 2018.

Berkeley County is part of the Charleston-North Charleston Metropolitan Statistical Area, which outperformed other areas of the state in employment rates. Posting an August jobless rate of just 2.5 percent, the Charleston-North Charleston MSA has remained the leader in economic viability for the last year, compared to the Florence MSA and the Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin MSA, all of which posted jobless rates of around 3 percent.

Statewide, the estimated labor force (people working plus unemployed people looking for work) increased to 2,382,091. That increase continues an upward trend for eight consecutive months. It’s also an increase of 2,763 people since July 2019 and an increase of 59,595 individuals since August 2018.

Industries with strong growth were Leisure and Hospitality (+9,000 jobs); Manufacturing (+6,900); Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (+6,700); Education and Health Services (+5,000); Government (+4,400); Other Services (+1,100); and Construction (+300).

Decreases were seen in Information (-1,300); Professional and Business Services (-200); and Financial Activities (-100).