With the state’s population expanding by more than 15 percent in the last decade, South Carolina is one the 10 fastest growing states in the country. At 28.3 percent, African-Americans remain the state’s largest minority population.
University of South Carolina cultural geographer Dr. Robert Mitchell says a return migration of African-Americans to South Carolina–and the South in general–is being spurred by the draw of jobs, the lure of returning to their Southern ancestral roots, and the perception of a better racial climate. Beginning around the 1970s, this move replenished the numbers of African Americans that left the state in droves beginning during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The latest population figures indicate that the state is becoming more urban and suburban. Dorchester County, just outside of Charleston, showed a growth of nearly 42 percent. York County, adjacent to Charlotte, and Horry County (which includes Myrtle Beach) each showed a rise in population of 37 percent. Mitchell says a significant proportion of the population shift is Africans-Americans leaving rural areas for urban areas where more job opportunities exist.
Mitchell says the interesting study going forward is the racial makeup of these growing urban areas where more and more African-Americans are leaving the city limits for life in the suburbs.
Dorchester County recorded the most significant growth rate of 41.6 percent. Other counties with metropolitan areas recording significant growth are Lexington County (Columbia) at 21.4 percent, Richland County (Columbia) at 19.9 percent, and Greenville County at 18.9 percent.