South Carolina Income Levels Increase

Good news? It depends on where the uptick took hold …

Things got better for Palmetto State residents economically in 2018. Well, let’s rephrase that: A key income indicator improved, although it remains to be seen whether the uptick was driven by broad-based middle class income growth or (like previous years) gains accruing exclusively to the top one percent of income earners.

Median household income climbed in South Carolina by more than $1,700 last year to $52,306, according to data released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau.  That represents a 3.43 percent increase – which easily eclipsed the 2.44 percent inflation increase from last year.

South Carolina still lags well behind the national average of $61,937 – and behind neighboring Georgia ($58,756) and North Carolina ($53,885), two states which have made bold moves to enhance the competitiveness of their tax codes.

Only eight states – Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and West Virginia – had lower income levels than South Carolina last year.

Looking within the data, 18.6 percent of South Carolinians earned between $50,000 and $74,999 annually, while 13.7 percent earned between $35,000 and $49,999. Those were the two largest middle class brackets.

Meanwhile, 23.3 percent of South Carolinians earned less than $25,000 annually while 9.2 percent earned more than $150,000.

Here is the full breakdown …

(Click to view)

(Via: U.S. Census)

As we have previously noted in assessing income levels in South Carolina, there is real concern over whether gains in median household income are accruing to middle income earners.  According to the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute (EPI), from 2009-2013 South Carolina was one of fifteen states in which the top one percent of income earners captured all of the income growth over that five-year period.

We are very interested in seeing what the last five years looked like …

Obviously we will have to wait for more granular data to see specifically where these income gains took hold, but given the weak growth in the Palmetto State’s economy last year – these numbers are encouraging.

Still, South Carolina has much work to do if its leaders wish to foster an economic climate that sustains income growth into the future.



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