South Carolina’s chronic struggles on the employment front continued last month – and based on the latest reports from the state legislature, its beleaguered workforce shouldn’t expect any help from “Republican” politicians anytime soon.
The Palmetto State’s labor participation rate clocked in at 57.3 percent during the month of April, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Only five states – Alabama (57 percent), New Mexico (56.8 percent), Arkansas (56.8 percent) Mississippi (55.4 percent) and West Virginia (55.1 percent) – fared worse than South Carolina.
Nationally, labor participation declined by 0.2 percent last month to 62.2 percent.
Per our intrepid researcher Jenn Wood, here is a look at the recent trend lines …
Awful … and things are about to get even worse as our neighboring states take steps to expand their existing competitive advantages.
The Palmetto State currently has a top marginal income tax rate of 7 percent – which is the highest rate in the southeast and the eleventh-highest rate in the country. Even worse, this anti-competitive rate is assessed on all income above $15,400 – which means it disproportionately hurts low- and middle-income earners.
Sort of like the gas tax hike “Republicans” approved back in 2017 …
This anti-competitive tax climate is crippling the Palmetto State’s potential. With a picturesque, 187-mile coastline and abundant natural resources, South Carolina is perfectly poised to capitalize on our evolving economy … including flight from über-liberal urban city centers in the north and the burgeoning work-from-home movement.
To do that, though, we must give individual income earners and small businesses more of an incentive to come here. More importantly, we need to incentivize existing small businesses – the primary engine of job creation in our economy – to grow and thrive from the ground up in the Palmetto State.
Is that happening? No … and there is only one political party to blame for it.
“Republicans” have controlled S.C. House of Representatives since December 1994. They have controlled the S.C. Senate since January 2001 – and the S.C. governor’s office since January 2003. In 2020, a “red storm” gave the GOP near supermajorities in both the House and the Senate.
What have they done with this power?
The GOP has grown government at obscene levels (while still managing somehow to shortchange its core functions). They have regressively raised taxes. They have given billions of dollars to corporate cronies at the expense of small businesses. And they have presided over disastrous government meddling in the private sector – on multiple fronts.
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“GOP politicians have put the failed policies of their Democratic predecessors on steroids – with predictable results,” I noted in a column back in January.
Under former governor Nikki Haley, labor participation in South Carolina peaked at 60.3 percent between May and September 2011 – but continued to lag well behind the national rate (which ranged between 64 percent and 64.2 percent during that time period). In May of 2012, the rate dipped below 60 percent – and has remained beneath this key demarcation line ever since.
By contrast, labor participation reached as high as 68.5 percent during the early 1990s – right around the time the GOP was taking control of state government.
So … am I suggesting South Carolina voters should turn over power to the Democrats?
No … I am suggesting there is no difference between the two parties in the Palmetto State when it comes to the bread and butter issues of taxes and spending. There is only more government, higher taxes … and sustained economic stagnation.
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. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that Minnesota Twins’ lid pictured above).
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