Wateree Community Actions Inc.
The Relevance of Poverty to South Carolina

Poverty is Causing Human and Social Misery for Many

Why should we concern ourselves with South Carolina’s poor? Because it is morally right; because we, ourselves, stand closer to poverty than we realize; and because the actual and potential loses caused by poverty rob our state, our communities and ourselves of many of God’s blessings.

Prosperity and poverty are both facts of life in South Carolina. For example, South Carolina benefits from the wealth of the tourism industry that generated more than $8 billion and sustained over 113,000 direct jobs in 1997. The state has benefited from industrial growth and aggressive economic recruitment of companies such as Michelin, BMW, Honda and FUJI. Economists predict continued billions in capital investment in South Carolina.

However, there is the other side of South Carolina, whose statistics are less favorable:

  • In 1989, 15.4% of South Carolinians lived below the poverty level.
  • Our state’s fastest growing population, the elderly over 75, account for 17% of those in poverty.
  • Children and teenagers up to age 17 represent 18.8% of our state’s poor population.
  • Of the white population in South Carolina, 8.4% are poor; of the African American population, the figure is 26.4%; of the Hispanic population, 25.4%; for other races, 19.6% live below the poverty level.
  • 19% of all South Carolina families with children live in poverty.
  • 14.1% of households in South Carolina had incomes below poverty in 1999, more than the national average of 11.8 %.
  • The “working poor” are present in South Carolina: 53% of children in low-income families have at least one parent who is employed full-time/year-round.

Source: South Carolina Budget and Control Board http://www.sccommunityprofiles.org/scpages/sc_poverty_index.php

More statistics could be presented; but the central fact is clear: poverty is causing human and social misery in South Carolina. Clearly for South Carolina to grow and seize available opportunities, all citizens must be fully equipped and their strengths and abilities encouraged if South Carolina is to be a better place. Improvements in education, health, community and family structures and economic opportunities can enable the poor to become vital and much needed contributors to the state’s unprecedented growth. Those improvements can also give human beings a realistic chance to enjoy the kind of life that is part of their birthright. Indeed, much relevance to South Carolina exists.

                                                                 - Taken from Dimensions of Poverty 2000   

                                                                                   Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina



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