ROCK HILL, S.C. — South Carolinians are equally divided on whether economic conditions across the country are getting worse or better, but 51 percent report that their personal finances are improving, a Winthrop University poll reported Wednesday.
The survey also found that 23.4 percent worried they couldn’t offer their families balanced meals at some time during the past year because they had run out of money.
The findings come as the state’s jobless rate plunged to its lowest rate in three years in December.
The 9.5 percent unemployment rate was down from 9.9 percent in November and marked the fourth straight month of declines in a state that’s suffered among the highest unemployment rates in the country for years. The 9.5 percent rate is well above the national rate of 8.5 percent in December, but the state hasn’t had an unemployment rate that low since it hit 9.2 percent in December 2008.
Despite those jobless numbers, the Winthrop poll found 59 percent of South Carolinians think the nation is heading in the wrong direction and 46 percent think their state is also on the wrong path.
Asked for their four top issues facing the nation and state today, residents listed the economy, jobs and the budget deficit. Respondents also listed “politicians and/or government” as their fourth top concern.
And while 51 percent reported that their personal financial situation as a whole was improving, 30.7 percent reported that it had gotten worse during the past year.
Even though the nation’s economic turmoil was a top concern, 58 percent of respondents said they had spent more than two nights away from home on vacation during the past year.
As well, some 66.4 percent said they’d not experienced stress during the day prior to the poll and 73.7 percent said they’d not been worried a lot during that time, either.
Gov. Nikki Haley was named as the most nationally famous living South Carolinian, besting both GOP Sens. Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham, but 42.8 percent couldn’t think of anyone.
The poll surveyed 878 adults by phone between Jan. 29 to Feb. 6. A statement by the university added that no calling was done on Feb. 5, when the Super Bowl was played.