South Carolina’s unemployment rate held at 9.6 percent in August – but only because the state’s labor force shrank to its lowest level since detailed record-keeping began in 1976.  Nationally, the unemployment rate declined from 8.3 to 8.1 percent last month – but again, that decrease was due almost exclusively to people giving up their search for gainful employment.

The Palmetto State’s labor force shrunk by 12,000 employees in August – more than it shed in the previous two months combined.  As a result, South Carolina’s labor participation rate now stands at an all-time low of 58.4 percent. That’s well below the national rate – which itself hit a thirty-year low of 63.5 percent in August.

A total of 2,131,536 South Carolinians are currently counted as part of the state’s labor force – roughly 30,000 fewer than last year.

Nikki Haley: We’re “on the right track.”

These numbers are terrible news for S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley – who has made government-funded “economic development” efforts the centerpiece of her administration.  In fact five months ago Haley used a modest decline in the state’s unemployment rate to promote sales of her autobiographyCan’t Is Not An Option … although the tweet referencing the decrease was quickly removed from Haley’s Twitter account.

The governor’s press secretary, Rob Godfrey, has also repeatedly sent out tweets referring to Haley as America’s “Jobs Governor.”

Will he do so again in response to these numbers?

Technically, the state added 2,400 jobs in August – but 2,200 of those were government positions.  That’s not surprising, of course, given Haley’s ongoing investment in big government.

Over the last four months, South Carolina’s unemployment rate has risen from 8.9 to 9.6 percent – an increase which doesn’t include the 20,000 people who have left the labor force.

Despite these abysmal numbers, Haley and “Republican” leaders in the S.C. General Assembly continue to rely on taxpayer-funded incentives to lure jobs – even though these subsidies shift the state’s tax burden onto the backs of small businesses and sole proprietors.

Haley’s administration did its best to put a positive spin on the numbers, with S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce director Abraham Turner saying that the “unemployment rate announcement shows me that South Carolina is on the road to economic recovery.”


Haley herself bragged earlier this week that her administration was “on the right track with our economic development efforts.”

These numbers beg to differ …