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South Carolina Workforce Stalled As Union Threat Rises

Palmetto State’s struggles continue …

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South Carolina’s weak workforce continued to hover near record low levels last month. Meanwhile, a rising tide of unionization across the southeast seemed poised to pose further threats to the Palmetto State’s anemic employment economy.

According to data released on Friday from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), South Carolina’s labor participation rate – or the percentage of its working age population that was part of the workforce – clocked in at 57.2 percent during the month of April. That’s a modest 0.1 percent increase from the previous month – but it remained just barely above revised record lows of 57 percent recorded between August and November of 2022.

For the second straight month only three states – Kentucky (57.1 percent), West Virginia (55.2 percent) and Mississippi (53.7 percent) – fared worse on this most critical of employment indicators. Nationally, labor participation held at 62.7 percent.

For the visual learners among us, this data has been compiled in graph form courtesy of our inimitable research director, Jenn Wood.

For those of you keeping score at home, there were an estimated 2,484,243 people in the state’s labor force in April ( +6,655) – including 2,404,450 who were gainfully employed (+4,810) and 79,793 who were unemployed but actively looking for work (+1,845).

As I often note, my media outlet religiously tracks 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. It is, therefore, a far better indicator of the extent to which people are gainfully employed … or, as is too often the case in South Carolina, not.

“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,” I noted last month.

Are Palmetto State politicians listening to those insights? No.

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“Republican” leaders keep 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 the GOP won supermajorities two years ago 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 uniparty politicians have continued to grow government faster than taxpayers’ ability to pay for it – 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.

Will anything change anytime soon? Not as long as the current crop of uniparty leaders are in charge … and not as long as they are able to continue nefariously targeting the handful of authentic fiscal conservatives in the S.C. General Assembly.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(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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