South Carolina Workforce: Weakness Persists

Palmetto State ahead of only West Virginia and Mississippi on key jobs indicator …

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South Carolina’s labor participation rate inched up last month from record low readings recorded earlier this year – but it remains well below the national average.

And still trails all but two U.S. states …

South Carolina’s labor participation rate during the month of March clocked in at 56.1 percent according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s up 0.2 percent from the previous month and up 0.3 percent from a revised record low of 55.8 percent first recorded in December 2022 (and then again in January of this year).

Unfortunately, the Palmetto State trails every other state in America except West Virginia (54.6 percent) and Mississippi (54.4 percent) on this critical employment indicator.

Nationally, labor participation continued its upward trend last month – rising another 0.1 percent to reach 62.6 percent. That’s its highest reading since February 2020 – just before the Covid-19 pandemic waylaid the American economy.

Are you visually inclined like me? Then check out this graph from our inimitable research director, Jenn Wood

For those of you unhip to this metric, labor participation is the most important jobs metric to follow.

Unlike the unemployment rate – which tracks a segment of workers within the labor force – labor participation tracks the size of the workforce itself.  That makes it a far more accurate indicator of the extent to which people are gainfully employed … or, not.

This news outlet has covered labor participation for years in South Carolina – documenting the extent to which the Palmetto State has continued to fall further behind the rest of the nation on this vital jobs measure and, correspondingly, on income growth and prosperity. All of this has transpired under “Republican” rule, interestingly. In fact, labor participation was humming along as high as 68.5 percent right around the time GOP leaders took control of state government in the early 1990s.



GOP politicians enjoy supermajorities in both chambers of the S.C. General Assembly – and control all statewide offices in the Palmetto State. Unfortunately, that has not translated into pro-business policies.

At a time when individual taxpayers and small businesses in South Carolina desperately need help, so-called “Republican” leaders keep pumping more of their tax dollars into crony capitalist giveaways and unsustainable bureaucratic expansions.

As I repeatedly point out, the overwhelming majority of jobs in South Carolina are created by small businesses (sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, etc.). Not only are these small businesses not receiving crony capitalist subsidies from GOP leaders – they are paying for them. They are also paying the highest marginal income tax rate in the southeast – which is another major disincentive to job growth, income growth and prosperity in the Palmetto State.

When will the Palmetto State change these anti-competitive policies? Not until it changes its political leadership, clearly …



Will Folks on phone
Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

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.



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More of the same April 24, 2023 at 5:28 pm

Typical lazy Republican voting welfare queens.

Ralph Hightower Top fan April 26, 2023 at 11:09 pm

Thank God for Mississippi.


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