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S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley has been aggressively touting the reduction of the Palmetto State’s unemployment rate in recent months … but what she doesn’t say is how this so-called “good news” has been achieved.

In addition to government-subsidized “economic development” deals (which shift the state’s tax burden down to individual taxpayers and small businesses), Haley has driven down the state’s unemployment rate by …. wait for it … shrinking its workforce.

That’s right …

The percentage of unemployed South Carolinians is declining because the state’s work force continues to shrink.

According to the latest available data, South Carolina’s labor participation rate stood at 58.1 percent in January –  just one-tenth of a percentage point above its all-time low of 58 percent in December. Of course that’s a seasonally adjusted figure – the actual rate for January was 57.7 percent.

Another record low …

Labor participation – which tracks the number of working age citizens who are either gainfully employed or searching for a job – peaked under Haley at 60.9 percent (in June 2011) but has been falling precipitously ever since.

Here’s data from the last ten months …


January – 58.1 percent
December – 58.0 percent
November 58.1 percent
October – 58.2 percent
September – 58.4 percent
August – 58.4 percent
July – 58.5 percent
June – 58.7 percent
May – 58.8 percent
April – 58.9 percent

(For historical labor participation rate data, click here).

Yeah …

How bad are those numbers? Very bad. South Carolina’s unadjusted labor participation rate is 5.3 percentage points below the national rate of 63 percent – which has bottomed out at three-decade lows under U.S. President Barack Obama’s “recovery.”

In other words South Carolina is (as usual) badly trailing the rest of the country – which itself is experiencing workforce shrinkage not seen since the late 1970s.

Remember those numbers the next time someone (cough … Haley) tells you “it’s a great day in South Carolina.”