South Carolina continued on its hot jobs streak last month.
The Palmetto State produced 6,300 new non-farm jobs in September compared to August — the second-largest increase in the nation, according to labor data released Tuesday.
South Carolina has added 41,500 non-farm jobs so far this year after adding 49,000 during 2014.
In recent months, South Carolina’s job growth versus a year ago has reached 17-year highs, economists said. The state had 63,400 more jobs in September compared to the same month last year — the fifth-best 12-month growth since 1990, according to federal labor data.
“This is strong stuff,” said Rick Kaglic, senior economist with the Federal Reserve in Charlotte.
The state’s jobless rate dropped to a 7 1/2 -year low — 5.7 percent — in September, the fourth straight monthly decline.
Growth in retail, education, tourism, administrative and temporary jobs more than offset losses in manufacturing and finance, according to the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.
South Carolina has shed 1.1 percentage points off its jobless rate since June. The national unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent from 5.3 percent during that period.
Since the recession, South Carolina’s job growth has outpaced the national average.
The Palmetto State has 3.5 percent more jobs now than it had before the recession started in December 2007. Nationwide, jobs have grown 2.9 percent during that period, Kaglic said.
That demonstrates that South Carolina has resumed the trend it was setting before the recession, boasting faster job growth than the U.S. average, Kaglic said.
Boeing opening a jet manufacturing plant in North Charleston in 2011 started the spike in jobs, he said. That plant now employs 7,500.
Over the past five years, South Carolina’s job growth also has surpassed a couple of nearby states — Georgia and Tennessee, while matching another neighbor, North Carolina, said Matt Dotson, an economist with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in Atlanta.
Kaglic said South Carolina’s recent job success is due to its ability to draw new residents into a state with a business-friendly climate.
The historic rainstorm that blanketed much of the state during the first weekend of October could cut short South Carolina’s employment streak, economists said. But any hiccups could be brief. Kaglic noted South Carolina’s employment figures bounced back within a couple of months of 1989’s Hurricane Hugo.
Another hovering cloud over South Carolina’s job numbers is its labor-participation rate.
At 58.9 percent, the percentage of work-eligible South Carolinains with a job or looking for one was the nation’s ninth lowest in September. Seven of the eight states with lower labor-participation rates than South Carolina also are in the South — including Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.