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Outlook for jobs gloomy in S. Carolina

A third-generation brick mason, Kevin Bolton has been job hunting since being laid off four months ago while working on the new USC baseball stadium.

“I’ve been laid off before,” the 43-year-old Columbia man said. “Sometimes you could catch on at another job the same day. The longest wait would be a week or two. But not this time. I’ve been looking and looking, and nothing’s coming through.”

Indeed, finding a job in South Carolina is challenging, and the economic news shows little promise of improving. Consider:

A grim Christmas shopping season is in the immediate future as consumers, crimped by tight credit and worried about losing their jobs, are expected to tighten spending.

Economists expect unemployment in South Carolina will remain higher than the national average through most of 2009.

South Carolina is listed as one of the 26 states already in recession by Moody’s, a well-known provider of economic research and analysis.

In the construction business alone, about 17,800 jobs have been lost over the past year in South Carolina. But it isn’t just construction that’s reeling.

The State Employment Security Commission’s monthly report issued last week said September was the second month in a row that the number of S.C. jobs fell below year-ago levels.

The last time that happened was in the spring of 2003.

The jobless rate of 7.3 percent was a slight improvement over August’s 7.6 percent. But state officials said the lower number resulted from people pulling out of the labor market.

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