Strategic Advocacy Manager, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Director, Global Employment Policy & Special Initiatives, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Graphic Designer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
November 03, 2023
The state of South Carolina has a favorable landscape for businesses and individuals, with a diverse economy, improving labor market recovery, and a robust small business ecosystem. Educational attainment, quality of life, and cost of living factors remain promising.
The Worker Shortage Across America
Explore the interactive map below to see the impact of the worker shortage crisis in each state.
South Carolina’s Labor Market
Before the pandemic, South Carolina’s labor market was somewhat healthy. While the state's unemployment was healthily below national averages, the state's labor force participation was five points below the national average, standing at 57.5%. The state had just 63 workers for every 100 open jobs.
As of August 2023, South Carolina’s labor market was showing significant signs of improvement. The state’s unemployment rate and labor force participation rate have both nearly reached pre-pandemic levels.
However, the state continues to grapple with a worsening worker shortage now, with only 43 available workers for every 100 open jobs.
South Carolina’s Labor Market
South Carolina’s business environment is robust, including prominent ports and distribution hubs, a strong agriculture and agribusiness presence, numerous military bases, and several prominent universities.
Among the industries monitored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics the trade, transportation, and utilities sector, as well as the government sector, employ the highest number of those from South Carolina, while construction employs the fewest. South Carolina’s employment landscape is shaped by its robust defense and energy economies. The state is also an engineering hub, attracting large automotive and aerospace firms, and producing cutting-edge technology that bolsters nationwide innovation.
South Carolina maintains a thriving small business ecosystem, with 99.4% of all South Carolina businesses falling into this category, employing 43% of South Carolina's workforce. Within this dynamic landscape, 44.2% of small businesses are women-owned, 20.5% are minority-owned, over four percent are Hispanic-owned, and 10% are veteran-owned.
South Carolina’s Educational Attainment
In 2022, over 90% of South Carolina’s population obtained their high school diploma or its equivalent, on par with the national average. 32.6% of the population has attained a bachelor's degree, while 12.8% have secured a graduate degree, both below national rates.
Fortunately for employers in the state, over 81% of South Carolina college freshmen remain in-state for their higher education, where the average tuition is $12,497.
Out-of-state tuition in the Palmetto state is $32,853, which is more expensive than the national average of $28,000. In total, over 238,000 students were enrolled in a South Carolina college for the 2022-2023 school year, supplying a significant talent pool for local employers.
Quality of Life
South Carolina has a median household income of $61,770, ranking below the national average of around $70,000 as 44th in the nation. The state has a graduated tax rate with six brackets, ranging from 0%-7% based on income.
Over 20% of South Carolina’s workforce work remote at least one day a week. For those commuting into an office, the average commute time is 25.3 minutes. South Carolina’s cost of living index, as measured by the Council for Community and Economic Research (with the national average set at 100), stands at 96.5. This means that the state is generally more affordable than the national cost of living. The median rent is $918, while the median home cost is $289,791, both falling below national averages. In 2021, 70.3% of the population owned their housing unit, and the state experienced a growth rate of 2.94% from 2020 to 2022.
In the U.S., immigrants tend to be of working age in comparison to native-born individuals. As workers, these immigrants are also contributing to support programs like Medicare and Social Security.
Looking at South Carolina in particular, immigrants comprise over five-and-a-half percent of the state's population, totaling over 288,500 individuals. Their collective spending power amounts to $7.3 billion, while their tax contributions reach $2.4 billion.
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About the authors
Makinizi Hoover is the Strategic Advocacy Manager at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Her work includes the development and project management of comprehensive data centers that serve as a valuable resource for policymakers, businesses, and the public.
Stephanie Ferguson is the Director of Global Employment Policy and Special Initiatives. Her work on the labor shortage has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Associated Press.
Isabella has created stunning visualizations tackling pressing issues like the worker shortage, the benefits of hiring veterans, the lifespan of small businesses, and the future of work.