University study shows
economic and social implications of state's growing Latino population
of South Carolina researchers Dr. Douglas Woodward and Dr. Elaine Lacy
discussed findings from their latest research on the implications of
South Carolina's growing Latino population on Thursday.
In a report delivered at the 2007 Statewide Hispanic/Latino Issues
Conference hosted by the S.C. Commission for Minority Affairs, the two
outlined demographics of the Latino population, the potential stress on
the state's educational and healthcare systems, the impact on employment
and wages and poverty level and use of social services.
Woodward, professor of economics and director of the
Research in the
of Business, and Lacy, a professor of history at USC-Aiken
and research director for the
Consortium for Latino Immigration Studies, a center
affiliated with the Arnold School of Public Health, are two of South
Carolina's top authorities on the Mexican labor force in the state.
Some key findings:
62 percent of Latinos in South Carolina are of Mexican origin.
Latinos' average stay in South Carolina is 4.8 years, compared with
7.9 years nationally.
More than 50 percent of Latinos in South Carolina either do not
speak English or speak only a few words of English.
According to 2006 data, only 3.7 percent of all South Carolina
public-school students are Hispanic. The biggest enrollments of Latino
children are in Greenville County, followed by Beaufort, Spartanburg,
Horry, Charleston, Lexington, Richland, Berkeley and York counties.
40 percent of Latino students are fluent in English and fully
integrated in "mainstream" classrooms.
84 percent of Latinos characterize their health as "good" or "very
good." Nearly half of Latinos don't seek medical treatment either
because of a lack of health insurance or perceived lack of need.
While South Carolina employers are more apt to offer health benefits
than other benefits to service workers, few Latinos take the benefit,
reporting their decision as an "economic impossibility" due to cost.
From 2000 - 05, median wages for full-time, white South Carolina
workers increased by 1.2 percent, while falling by 1 percent for black
South Carolinians and by 9.6 percent for Hispanics.
Median annual earnings for Latinos is $20,400, far below median
earnings for South Carolinians in general.
Construction is the primary employment sector for Latinos, followed
by meat and poultry processing and landscaping services. Overall, for
each of the three largest sectors with a Latino work force in South
Carolina, African Americans either lost jobs, saw earnings decline or
25.7 percent of Latinos in South Carolina live in poverty, a figure
that has increased slightly. Black poverty levels in the state fell to
25.1 percent in 2005. In contrast, whites have a poverty level of 9.3
Titled "The Economic and Social Implications of Latinos in South
Carolina," the report was sponsored by the S.C. Commission for Minority
Affairs and the
Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER)
at the Moore School.
Lacy and Woodward were co-principal investigators on the report. The
project director was Dr. Myriam Torres, a research professor at the
Arnold School and director of the Consortium for Latino Immigration
A summary and the complete study is available online via the Moore
School Division of Research at: