Personal income in South Carolina climbed by 6 percent in 2020 according to data released earlier this year by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Good news, right? Sure … until you look at what fueled the increase.
“In 2020, the increase in transfer receipts was the leading contributor to personal income growth in all states,” a BEA release (.pdf) noted.
Wait … what is a transfer receipt?
That’s easy: It’s a payment from the government … like a stimulus check.
Nationally, incomes increased by 6.1 percent in 2020 after growing at a 3.9 percent rate in 2019 – which means South Carolina was slightly below the national average in terms of its income growth last year.
According to the BEA, transfer receipts accounted for “the entire $1.1 trillion dollar increase in personal income for the nation in 2020.”
That’s right … every penny of income growth last year came in the form of a government bailout. Obviously, 2020 was a year like no other given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. And to be clear, my news outlet did not oppose all of the Covid-19-related stimulus efforts.
Some of the initial stimulus proposals I supported, although I made it abundantly clear on multiple occasions where I believed the money should have been routed.
“All relief must be targeted to the individual income earners and small businesses that drive – or rather, were driving our economy before this crisis hit,” I wrote last March upon the passage of H.R. 748, the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economy Security” act.
More recent stimulus efforts I have opposed (see here and here) … arguing they were no longer necessary to address an economic “emergency” and were, in fact, actually hamstringing the nation’s recovery.
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Anyway, South Carolina has historically lagged behind the rest of the nation in terms of income levels – and 2020 was no exception. According to the BEA data, per capita personal income in the state clocked in at $47,502 last year – which ranked No. 44 nationally.
In addition to its anemic income levels, the Palmetto State also lags well behind the rest of the nation in terms of the size of its workforce. According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), South Carolina’s labor participation rate of 57 percent was the fourth-lowest in the country – ahead of only Kentucky (56.6 percent), Mississippi (56 percent) and West Virginia (55.4 percent).
The Palmetto State will get its next report card on this key economic indicator next Tuesday (June 22, 2021) when the BEA publishes state-level personal income estimates for the first quarter of 2021.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass player and a dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including the above-pictured Brooklyn Dodgers’ lid commemorating the 1947 major league baseball debut of Jackie Robinson).
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