HORRY COUNTY S.C. (WBTW) — The unemployment rate for South Carolina is almost back to pre-pandemic levels, according to new data.

The rate was down to 3.2% in June, just a few tenths of a percentage point away from the 2.9% unemployment rate in February 2020.

There were 2,326,257 employed in June, nearly 77,000 more people than in February 2020.

In Myrtle Beach alone, the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce report estimated that the number of people employed rose by nearly 5% in June this year compared with June last year. In Horry County, employment increased by roughly 3% for the same time frame.

“One of the industries that saw the strongest bounce back was transportation and warehousing,” said South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce research economist Erica Von Nessen “So we’ve actually seen tremendous growth in there. It makes sense with a lot more deliveries happening and things like that. Retail trade also bounced back very quickly. Obviously, leisure and hospitality was the sector that struggled the most.”

She said it might take a little longer for them to fill leisure and hospitality jobs again, and some of those businesses changed how they operate, requiring fewer employees to work.

“Education and health care is also slightly down compared to pre-pandemic, but all of our other sectors, financial, professional business services, manufacturing,” Von Nessen said. “Those are all at or above their pre-pandemic levels of employment.”

State officials said June’s numbers indicate that the economy is remaining strong.

“Our labor force participation rate, while lower than the national average, actually improved very quickly coming out of the pandemic and we really didn’t see the people dropping out of the labor force as much in South Carolina as we did in other states,” Von Nessen said. “Part of that was our response we didn’t have as long of shutdowns as some of the other states.’

The SCDEW projects that the state’s economy will produce 263,000 new jobs between 2020 and 2030.