The typical household in South Carolina is earning less than it was 12 years ago, worse than the national trend, according to a new U.S. Census report released this week.
The report from the American Community Survey found the median income in South Carolina was a little over $43,107 last year. When adjusted for inflation, that is $5,294 less (10.9%) than it was in 2000. That was much worse than the national median’s 6.6 percent decline.
The state with the highest decline in wages adjusted for inflation was Michigan with 19.1 percent. The District of Columbia bucked the trend, as its wages increase by 23.3 percent. The national median was $55,030 in 2000 and $51,371 in 2012.
Median household income means that half of South Carolina households make more than $43,107, while half make less. It is not to be confused with average, which is the total amount of income divided by number of households.
University of South Carolina research economist Joseph Von Nessen says he’s not surprised by the findings. “You still have a lot of people who are unemployed,” he told South Carolina Radio Network. “We’ve only recovered… between 60 and 70 percent of the jobs that we lost during the recession. That’s still a lot of jobs that aren’t there.”
While trends were not given for South Carolina, the report does show how income grew and fell nationally during the 2000s. Slight declines were recorded after the 2002 recession, but the trend was positive from 2004-2006 before plummeting after 2007. However, household income grew very slightly from 2011-2012.
The same report also showed that the percentage of people considered living in poverty has increased in South Carolina, from 14.4 percent in 2000 to 18.3 percent in 2012. That 3.9 percentage point increase was slightly worse than the national average of 3.7 percentage points. South Carolina had the 18-highest increase, but 9th-highest overall poverty rate.
Michigan had the worst increase of any state with 7.3 percentage points. West Virginia actually improved its poverty rate by 0.8 points.
Von Nessen said the data matched previous studies which show income is growing in the Charleston and Greenville/Spartanburg metro areas, but is stagnant or falling nearly everywhere else in South Carolina.
“What we’ve seen in South Carolina over the last year is certain areas that have been increasing in terms of total personal income,” he said. “But the majority of the state has not seen any increases at all.”
He said the worst problems remain in rural areas, which have not recovered from the plant closures and layoffs from five years ago.