July 30, 2015

Report finds more needs to be done for South Carolina’s children

The overall well-being of children in South Carolina improved slightly, even while poverty continues to go up, according to a new report findings released Tuesday.

The Kids Count Data Book, a study conducted each year by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, ranked South Carolina 42nd overall for a child’s chance of succeeding. That’s up from 45th last year and is the best ranking South Carolina has achieved in the report’s 25-year history.

The foundation’s associate director for policy reform and advocacy Laura Speer told South Carolina Radio Network one are area of improvement in the state was the health of newborn infants. “Babies born at a low birth weight has gone down in the state, which is a good thing,” Speer said.

Another area of improvement in South Carolina is the number of uninsured children dropped. “On a real bright note is the percent of children without health insurance, it has dropped from 13 percent in 2008 down to 13 percent in 2013. Which is a pretty significant improvement,” Speer said.

States received separate rankings in economics, education, health, and family and community.

On economic issues, South Carolina  declined or remained the same. More than one in four children lived in poverty, according to the report. That’s  nearly 300,000 children. By percentage, childhood poverty rates went up from 22 percent in 2008 to 27 percent in 2013.

Even more children live in homes without job security. The parents of 35 percent of children, more than 350,000 in all, lack a permanent job, meaning no parent has full-time, secure employment. That was an increase from 30 percent in 2008.

South Carolina posted mixed results on family and community measures.

More than 40 percent of children live in single parent homes, up 3 percentage points from 2008. The state’s biggest improvement came in teen births. The number of girls 15-19 years-old giving birth, per 1,000, declined to 32, a 19-point drop from 2008.

Health is the only category where South Carolina showed across the board improvement, ranking 36th nationwide.


SC unemployment rate drops slightly in June

Construction workersAn increase in the number of South Carolinians listed as working — combined with a decrease in the number who are unemployed — caused South Carolina’s jobless rate to drop slightly in June, according to new data from the state Department of Employment and Workforce.

The unemployment rate dropped to 6.6 percent in June from May’s 6.8 percent. The slight decrease was due to more people finding jobs at the same time the state’s labor force shrank. Roughly 2,100 more people were listed as employed than in May, while 4,400 fewer were considered to be unemployed. That meant South Carolina reported a record high number of jobholders at more than 2.11 million. However, the labor force also contracted by 1,300 jobs in that span.

The national rate was 5.3 percent in June, the lowest mark since the 2008 economic recession.

South Carolina’s rate is higher than one year ago, when it was at 6.3 percent in June 2014. However that increase is mostly attributed to growth in the number of people seeking work, as the state’s total workforce has increased by about 65,000 jobs since then.

The sectors experiencing the largest growth were hospitality and leisure services, as well as trade, transportation and utilities. Those sectors reporting a net loss were government, and education/health services.

Allendale County had the highest unemployment rate in June, at 11.5 percent. Charleston County had the lowest rate at 5.5 percent.

NAACP ends economic sanctions against South Carolina over flag

The NAACP lifted its 15-year’s of economic sanctions against South Carolina a day after the Confederate battle flag in front of the Statehouse came down.

South Carolina chapter president, Lonnie Randolph, told South Carolina Radio Network last week that the state chapter would petition the national board to lift the sanctions against the state once the flag was removed. “At the national convention the South Carolina delegation will present an emergency resolution to the national board and ask the board to lift the economic sanctions against the state of South Carolina,” Randolph said.

The organization passed the resolution Saturday at its national convention in Philadelphia to end the sanctions and other economic activity.

The boycott began in 2000 during debate over the Confederate flag atop South Carolina’s Statehouse dome. The boycott remained after the flag was moved to Statehouse grounds.

The NCAA, which honored that ban, said it will resume holding championship events in the state.

The decision to move the flag to a relic room came after the shooting deaths of nine people at a church in Charleston.



Port of Charleston deepening project gets key federal approval

A SC Ports Authority crane moves up the Cooper River earlier this week to make room for 2 new Post-Panamax cranes at the authority's Wando Terminal (Image: SCPA)

A SC Ports Authority crane moves up the Cooper River earlier this week to make room for 2 new Post-Panamax cranes at the authority’s Wando Terminal (Image: SCPA)

A plan that the Port of Charleston says will let it compete for huge container ships following next year’s Panama Canal expansion moved forward Thursday.

The Charleston Harbor Post 45 Deepening Project received unanimous approval from the Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works Review Board Thursday for its Final Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement.

The final report will now be released to state and local agencies for a 30-day review period. Upon review from the agencies, the Army Corps of Engineers will sign the report in September and then present it to Congress. “Once the Chief’s Report is sent to Congress, authorization and funding appropriation will need to be secured to begin the construction phase of the project,” according to Lisa Metheney, Head Civilian of the Charleston District of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Metheney told South Carolina Radio Network that the next step is the design phase. “We are still a few years away from the work in the harbor actually starting. Right now the next step is the design phase which will take about 18 to 24 months.”

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Despite growth in jobs, SC’s unemployment rate continues ticking upward

A road crew pours concrete earlier this month. The number of people holding jobs increased in May, but so did the number of people looking for work (Image: SCDOT)

A road crew pours concrete earlier this month. The number of people holding jobs increased in May, but so did the number of people looking for work (Image: SCDOT)

South Carolina’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate increased slightly last month, as a slow upward trend continued this year despite more people listed as working.

The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce did note that roughly 5,500 more people were reported as holding jobs in May than a month earlier, but the percentage of people looking for work grew at a slightly faster pace. That moved South Carolina’s jobless rate to 6.8 percent in May, up from 6.7 percent in April.

That is the highest rate in more than 18 months, since it was 6.9 percent in October 2013. South Carolina did mirror the national trend, but the Palmetto State remains well above the national average of 5.5 percent. Regionally, Georgia reported a 6.3 percent unemployment rate, while North Carolina had a 5.7 percent rate in May.

The agency  said that the number of people working in South Carolina last month reached a record of nearly 2.11 million, which 65,000 more than at the same point last year. However, the number of people listed as unemployed grew by roughly 19,000 — canceling out any gains in the state’s jobless rate.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector had the biggest job loss last month, with 3,200 fewer jobs in May compared with April. Both manufacturing and health and education showed increases of 800 jobs in May, compared with April.

Allendale County had the largest jobless rate at 11.6 percent. Charleston County had the lowest rate at 5.4 percent. However, local figures are calculated differently from state and national numbers and are not adjusted for seasonal factors.