Connect with us


South Carolina’s “Overqualified” Workforce




We’ve devoted a lot of ink to the fact that South Carolina’s workforce is smaller than most other states.  And poorer.  And dumber.

Astoundingly, though, a recent report from the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) suggests the Palmetto State’s workforce may be too smart for its own good.

According to the report (.pdf), South Carolina suffers from an “oversupply” of qualified laborers – at least with regard to positions “on the upper half of the educational spectrum.”

Wait … what? 

That’s right.  According to SCDEW, 33 percent of the state’s workers have earned a bachelor’s degree (or higher).  Unfortunately for them, only 18 percent of the state’s jobs require that level of training.  Similarly, 29 percent of the state’s workforce has “some college” education or an associate’s degree – but only 12 percent of the state’s jobs require that level of educational attainment.

In other words, 62 percent of the state’s workforce is competing for 30 percent of its jobs.

Ready for the flip side of the coin?

Forty-one percent of South Carolina jobs require a high school diploma (or equivalent) – whereas another 29 percent of positions don’t even require that.

Combined, that’s seventy percent of Palmetto State jobs requiring either high school equivalency or less.  According to SCDEW data, though, only 38 percent of the workforce is correspondingly limited in its academic advancement.

Take a look …

(Click to enlarge)


(Chart via SCDEW)

The end result of this mismatched labor force?  Workers on the top half of the spectrum wind up performing jobs that are ostensibly “beneath them.”

According to SCDEW, 21 percent of retail sales positions in South Carolina are currently filled by workers with a bachelor’s degree (or higher).  Thirty-eight percent of those jobs are filled by workers with an associates degree.  Similarly, thirty-eight percent of Palmetto State customer service representatives have an associates degree, while 23 percent have a bachelor’s degree.  Also, 24 percent of secretaries/ administrative assistants have college degrees while 44 percent have associates degrees.

What do we make of this data?

First of all, the numbers make it abundantly clear that South Carolina’s bloated, government-run system of higher education – in which taxpayers support nearly three dozen institutions of “higher learning” (at more than eighty campus locations) – is even more unnecessary than we thought.

Which makes further government subsidization of this non-core function totally inexcusable.

More to the point, job quality in South Carolina is atrocious.

SCDEW has its own explanation for the numbers.

“This simplification of the actual workforce through representative data illustrates the difficulty in quantifying a potential skills gap when countervailing trends are present in the data,” the agency noted in its report.

Ummm … what in the hell does that mean?

Who knows … but it’s pretty disturbing that state government is shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars a year on pointless degrees (and then paying hundreds of millions of dollars a year on top of that to retrain these “overqualified” workers).

Clearly our state’s efforts at “higher education” in pursuit of “economic development” is missing the mark … badly.