South Carolina Workforce

South Carolina Workforce Report: Stalled

Palmetto State falls further behind the national average on critical jobs metric …

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South Carolina continued to fall further behind the rest of the country on the most important jobs metric there is: Labor participation. Meanwhile, a separate report ranked the Palmetto State No. 3 nationally on a list of states where employers were struggling the most to hire workers.

What gives? First, the numbers …

For the second straight month, only 57.1 percent of South Carolina’s working age population was part of the workforce in March. This reading was just one tenth of a percent higher than the revised record low of 57 percent recorded from August through November of 2022.

It is also the fourth-worst reading in America, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Nationally, labor participation ticked up 0.2 percent to 62.7 percent – meaning South Carolina’s positioning on this critical employment indicator continued its decades-long erosion compared to the national average.

For the visually inclined, the data has been compiled in graph form courtesy of our intrepid, inimitable, amazing research director, Jenn Wood.

For the second straight month, South Carolina fared better on this critical metric than only three other states: Kentucky (56.9 percent), West Virginia (55.2 percent) and Mississippi (53.7 percent). Meanwhile, by contrast, neighboring Georgia held strong at 61.4 percent for the third consecutive month while North Carolina declined modestly to 60.6 percent.

Our media outlet has consistently followed labor participation. Why? Because unlike the widely watched 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 better indicator of the extent to which people are gainfully employed … or, as is too often the case in South Carolina, not.

So while politicians and their mainstream media mouthpieces trumpet a number that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, we dig into the number that does matter – and offer insight on how to turn it around.

One quick way to improve South Carolina’s standing? If its uni-party politicians were to start investing in its economy, not more mindless bureaucratic growth. In fact, there’s a debate going on right now at the S.C. State House about an unexpected $1.8 billion surplus – one which, if returned to taxpayers, could give our moribund workforce a much-needed jolt.



As I’ve consistently noted, Palmetto State politicians continue approving unsustainable spending increases – while at the same time refusing to send any meaningful amount of money back to taxpayers. Such profligacy has continued even after so-called “Republicans” assumed supermajorities in both chambers of the S.C. General Assembly (to go with their total control over the state’s constitutional offices).

Despite campaigning as “conservatives,” these GOP politicians have grown government faster than taxpayers’ ability to pay for it for decades, repeatedly ignoring calls for broad-based income tax relief while consistently embracing bloated, ineffectual bureaucracies and failed crony capitalist schemes.

As a result, South Carolina’s workforce has steadily eroded in the years since “Republican” rule began – falling from its peak of 68.5 percent recorded right around the time the GOP takeover of state government began.

Adding to its workforce woes, South Carolina was hit with a disappointing report this week from consumer financial website WalletHub. According to that survey, the Palmetto State ranked third in the nation with a 6.4 percent job openings rate in March. This is no passing problem, either. Over the past twelve months, this indicator clocked in at 6.82 percent – also the third highest rate in the nation.

Count on this media outlet to continue keeping tabs on all of these numbers … and giving our audience data and perspective on them you won’t get anywhere else.




(Travis Bell Photography)

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 guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.



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JustCallMeAva Top fan April 20, 2024 at 1:33 pm

And you still have no idea why this is other then some half-baked right-wing/Libertarian talking point. It’s because there is a woeful mismatch between educational attainment and occupational training in the SC Workforce. We lag far behind on both metrics and here’s the GOP and Fox News telling kids they don’t need to go to college. They can just go to tech and get a degree and make “good” money. Yeah, that’s true if you have good grades, you stay in school, and actually finish tech school. Far too many do NOT. That leaves them woefully unqualified to do much of anything. The problem is not that too many people are not participating in the active labor market, but that they do not have the credentials to get an available job because they lack the critical education and technical skill set to do so. There is also an issue in rural areas having few economic opportunities. Fix that, then the “won’t work-force” will fix itself.

Nanker Phelge April 20, 2024 at 10:29 pm

“our intrepid, inimitable, amazing research director, Jenn Wood”

Ah, memories from when Will used to lavish Mathematically Challenged Mandy with such over the top praise…

kendall corley Top fan April 22, 2024 at 4:02 pm

I’m just curious how sooo many people in SC ‘s eligible workforce don’t work yet apparently have no problem feeding themselves and getting their bills and rent/mortgage paid. How do they do it? Teach me!!!


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