Thirty-four percent of South Carolina jobs are low-wage, a bigger percentage than in all but six other states, according to a new analysis from an anti-poverty group.
The Washington, DC-based Corporation for Enterprise Development examined 61 metrics to assess the financial security of residents in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
It publishes the Assets & Opportunity Scorecard every year with support from the Ford Foundation.
To determine the scope of low-wage jobs in a state, CFED looked at the median annual pay for various occupations as determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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It concluded that 34 percent of South Carolina workers were employed in occupations where the median annual pay was less than $23,624, the federal poverty threshold for a family of four.
CFED found just six other states with a higher percentage of low-wage jobs: Louisiana, Alabama, South Dakota, Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia.
Low-wage jobs “tend to lack other important benefits such as health insurance, paid sick leave and paid vacation,” CFED said in the report. “It is increasingly possible in the United States to work full-time and still earn an income that does not pay enough to lift a family out of poverty.”
CFED wants states to adopt various policies it considers helpful for promoting financial security, such as imposing a minimum wage above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
The group also found South Carolina coming up short in the area of average annual pay.
Adjusted for the state’s relatively low cost of living, South Carolina’s average annual pay was $45,080 in 2014, lower than all but nine other states, according to CFED.
The group ranked South Carolina dead last in the area of Businesses & Jobs, a 15-metric category that includes the small business ownership rate and the business creation rate per 1,000 workers in addition to the percentage of low-wage jobs and average annual pay.
Across all five areas and 61 metrics, CFED placed South Carolina 45th.
It found the Palmetto State under performed the U.S. average in:
*The percentage of households with income below the poverty level (16.7 percent versus the U.S. average of 14.5 percent).
*The percentage of employers offering health insurance (45.3 percent versus the U.S. average of 47.5 percent).
*The percentage of adults who reported a time over the past year when they needed to see a doctor but couldn’t because of the cost (18.1 percent versus the U.S. average of 14.3 percent).
Still, the scorecard was wasn’t entirely bad news for South Carolina.
It found the Palmetto State better that the U.S. average for:
*The bankruptcy rate per 1,000 people (1.5 percent versus the U.S. average of 2.9 percent).
*The percentage of workers participating in employer-based retirement plans (46.1 percent versus the U.S. average of 45.8 percent).
*Home ownership as defined by the percentage of occupied housing units that are owner-occupied (68 percent versus the U.S. average of 63.1 percent).