Last week, this media outlet provided an update on South Carolina’s employment situation – which has improved considerably over the last six months based on the latest labor participation data. The problem? The Palmetto State still ranks among the nation’s worst when it comes to the size of its workforce … faring only slightly better than Mississippi and West Virginia on this critical jobs metric.
Hence the state’s unofficial motto: Gratias Deo Pro Mississippi.
While South Carolina has a ton of work to do on the employment front (especially given what other states are doing), numbers from the month of July certainly appear to be trending in the right direction. In fact, according to a release from consumer financial website WalletHub, the Palmetto State enjoyed the best week of any state in America earlier this month on an important employment indicator.
Last week, new unemployment claims (a.k.a. initial unemployment insurance filings) in South Carolina were down a stunning 54.76 percent from the previous week, according to the release – which was based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
“This was the biggest decrease in the United States,” the WalletHub number crunchers noted.
Is this good news? Absolutely … and it points to South Carolina continuing to improve its workforce position. Of course … there’s a catch. Despite posting the biggest drop in the country last week, South Carolina still ranked in the middle of the pack nationally in terms of the overall number of claims. Which … is concerning.
Initial claims is a metric which was widely reported during the Covid-19 pandemic, but is generally regarded as one of the more volatile employment indicators. Similarly, the monthly unemployment rate is unhelpful in painting a comprehensive picture of the health of a state or nation’s workforce.
That’s why we follow labor participation. 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 – documenting the extent to which the Palmetto State has fallen further behind the rest of the nation on this vital jobs measure and, correspondingly, on income growth and prosperity. My outlet has also noted the correlation of this decline with “Republican” supermajorities intent on investing in bloated bureaucracies and crony capitalist subsidies as opposed to providing long-overdue broad-based tax relief for all income-earners.
Small businesses in South Carolina are struggling … but rather than easing their burdens, purportedly “pro-business” leaders keep abandoning them in favor of duplicative, ineffectual agencies and corporate welfare.
Until state leaders refocus their priorities and begin working on behalf of small businesses and individual income earners (i.e. the people who pay their bills) sustained progress on the most critical employment indicators will remain elusive. But at least for now things aren’t getting any worse …
Let’s hope leaders in the S.C. General Assembly start to encourage such improvements as opposed to creating headwinds to homegrown economic expansion.
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.
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