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      SC unemployment rate hits lowest mark in more than 3 years

      COLUMBIA(WACH, AP) -- South Carolina's unemployment rate has hit its lowest mark in more than three years.

      The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday that the state's jobless rate in March fell to 8.9 percent.

      That figure marked the eighth straight monthly decline for South Carolina unemployment, which has often been among the highest in the nation during the past several years.

      â??We are pleased with the unemployment rateâ??s continued decline. Our state hasnâ??t experienced an unemployment rate less than 9 percent since 2008, and we are excited that this means unemployed South Carolinians are finding jobs.â?? said SC Department of Employment and Workforce Executive Director Abraham J. Turner. â??There is still much work to be done in our great state, but todayâ??s drop indicates that businesses in South Carolina along with the Department of Employment and Workforce are keenly focused on putting South Carolinians to work.â??

      In December 2008, state unemployment hit 8.8 percent. It has since fluctuated, reaching a record high 12.5 percent in January 2010.

      But the state's jobless number has drifted downward since August, when it crested again at 11.1 percent.

      Gov. Nikki Haley planned to talk about state unemployment in Irmo later Friday.


      (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)