The state of South Carolina has seen a population boom over the past 10 years, especially in areas in close to the beach, but not necessarily at the beach. According to new Census figures, the fastest growing counties are Dorchester, near Charleston, with a growth rate of 42 percent and Horry County, which includes Myrtle Beach, at 37 percent. USC cultural geographer Dr. Jerry Mitchell says a large percentage of this growth reflects the migration of persons from the “Rust Belt” of the Midwest and Northeast, both retirees and job seekers. Mitchell says these persons are looking for affordable housing that is not far from the ocean.
Like Horry County, York County near Charlotte also experienced a population growth of 37 percent in the past decade. The county has seen immense growth in retirement communities along with an influx of job seekers mostly from the North, says Mitchell.
Mitchell says as more people move to the state from other regions of the country —and from other countries– the cultural makeup will undergo a gradual change. The makeup of institutions, such as houses of worship, will begin to change.
The Catholic Diocese of Charleston, which comprises the entire state of South Carolina, reports that the diocese has seen 500-600 people enter the church each year over the past five years. Those numbers include a diversity of Caucasians, Hispanics, Filipinos, Vietnamese and African-Americans. There are currently 118 active Catholic parishes and missions across the state. The largest denomination in the state is Baptist with over a thousand churches.