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South Carolina Workforce Data Continues To Disappoint

“Thank God for Mississippi (and West Virginia) …”

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South Carolina’s labor participation inched up for the third consecutive month in April, and has now climbed by half a percentage point from record lows reached during the winter months.

Is that good news? Not really …

At an anemic 56.3 percent, the Palmetto State continues to have the third-worst labor participation rate in America – pacing only West Virginia (54.6 percent) and Mississippi (54.5 percent), according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Nationally, labor participation remained at a comparatively robust 62.6 percent.

Courtesy of our amazing research director Jenn Wood, here are the trend lines …

As I note each time we cover this data, 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.

The Palmetto State has continued to fall further behind the rest of the nation (and its regional rivals) 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.

“Republicans” now have supermajorities in both chambers – yet they are only escalating the failed big government approaches of their Democratic predecessors. GOP lawmakers were poised to spend a record $36.6 billion this year perpetuating their failed banana republic – a whopping $2 billion more than they spent last year.

What economic outcomes are being purchased by this gargantuan influx of taxpayer cash? Bad ones.



At a time when individual taxpayers and small businesses desperately need help, these “conservatives” are blowing money on bloated bureaucracies and unchecked crony capitalism – and then sitting around with not-so-bright looks on their faces wondering why our state’s economy isn’t improving.

As I noted last month, GOP supermajorities and “Republican” governor Henry McMaster “continue to squander massive taxpayer-provided surpluses on unnecessary bureaucratic expansions and billion-dollar handouts to select corporations.”

Under McMaster, labor force participation peaked at 58.3 percent in March and April of 2019. Under Nikki Haley – who has styled herself as America’s “jobs governor” on the presidential campaign trail – labor participation slipped below the 60 percent demarcation line (and never bounced back). When Haley left office in January 2017, labor participation had dipped all the way to 58.2 percent.

For those of you keeping score at home, there were 4,276,986 working age South Carolinians last month – of which 2,406,354 were part of the workforce (including 75,653 who were listed as unemployed). As we do each month, count on this news outlet to keep our audience up to speed on the latest data for this important indicator – and context as to why it matters.



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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