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SC Labor Participation Rate Slips



South Carolina’s labor participation rate is once again hovering near record lows – sliding to 58.7 percent in June, according to data obtained by FITS from the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW). That’s nearly five percentage points lower than the national labor participation rate – which currently stands at 63.4 percent.

The rate stood at 58.9 percent in April and 58.8 percent in May.

The labor participation rate is the percentage of a state’s (or country’s) working age population that is either employed or actively searching for a job. It’s a critical – and often overlooked – data point in assessing true employment growth.

Labor participation in South Carolina under “Republican” Gov. Nikki Haley peaked at 60.9 percent in June 2011 but has been falling precipitously since then – hitting a record low of 58.5 in March. Officially, South Carolina’s unemployment rate stands at 8.1 percent – although the actual percentage is probably much higher given our low labor participation.

The national labor participation rate hit a 34-year-low of 63.3 percent in April.

Anyway you slice it, these numbers are terrible – and yet another indictment of South Carolina’s failed crony capitalist approach to “economic development.” In fact it’s been a terrible few weeks on the jobs front for Haley, who has made government-subsidized job creation the centerpiece of her administration.

One recent report ranked the Palmetto State No. 45 out of 50 in terms of the best states to “make a living.” Another recent report ranked Haley 34th out of 45 governors in terms of private sector job creation (five governors were not ranked because they entered office in 2013). Other recent reports showed the Palmetto State as having a terrible business tax climate as well as zero upward mobility for its citizens.

While Haley has given away tens of millions of dollars in largely undisclosed corporate handouts since taking office, she’s proposed precious little in the way of tax relief for the rest of us.