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Report: S.C. 8th-worst state for low-income families

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A study by financial information website RewardExpert ranks South Carolina as the eighth-worst state in the nation for those living with low incomes.

The study analyzed 22 data indicators in seven categories:

  • Federal and state government social programs and assistance
  • Insurance and Medicaid
  • Minimum wages and unemployment rates
  • State laws governing family or medical leave and debt collection practices
  • Income tax codes and earned-income credits
  • Housing costs
  • Income and overall cost of living

“There is a great variation among states when it comes to housing prices and cost of living expenses,” Vlad Tyschuk, co-founder of RewardExpert, said in a news release. “Certain state-level policies can make life particularly difficult for citizens living with limited means.”

The study cited South Carolina’s $7.25 per-hour minimum wage, which is the same as the federal minimum, and the structure of its income tax code as factors in its low ranking. All but two of the states ranked in the top 10 have minimum wages higher than $8 per hour.

RewardExpert determined the regressivity of a state’s income tax by calculating an index based on the difference between the highest and lowest tax rates and brackets measured by the percentage increase in the tax rate for every $1,000 in income.

The report also noted that South Carolina’s unemployment benefits extend an average of only 18 weeks, but it did mention the state’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which shields 100% of wages and up to $5,000 in liquid assets from debt collections, as a positive.

The report ranked Vermont, Rhode Island and New York as the top three states for low-income individuals and families. The bottom three were Georgia, Virginia and Mississippi.

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