Originally created 03/15/04

South Carolinians earn less than peers in other states

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolinians on average got a 1 percent raise from 2000 to 2002, but workers here continued to earn less than people who do comparable jobs in other states.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, South Carolinians earned 87 percent of the U.S. average in 2002 - about the same as in 2000.

In general the gap between South Carolina workers and the U.S. average was most significant among the top paid quarter of the work force.

The 25 percent of workers holding the highest-paying jobs in South Carolina in 2002 made $52,419 - 86 percent of the U.S. average for workers in the same job categories. Those jobs include surgeons, real-estate brokers and engineers.

The 25 percent of South Carolina workers in the lowest-paying jobs earned $16,800 - 91 percent of the U.S. average for those jobs. Those jobs include cooks, cashiers, bartenders and taxi drivers.

South Carolina's CEOs made 79 percent of their counterparts' pay in other states, while cooks' pay of $17,750 was 89 percent of the U.S. average.

South Carolina's average 1 percent pay increase after inflation was about the same as the rest of the country.

Those enjoying the biggest two-year pay gains were dentists, who saw their salaries rise 24 percent to $142,420; security guards, who saw a 13 percent increase, to $20,430; lawyers, whose pay rose 9 percent to reach $95,220; and, college administrators, whose pay rose nearly 10 percent to reach $57,250.

On the other side, dental hygienists' pay fell 13 percent to $48,360; paramedics' pay fell more than 2 percent to $24,510. and paralegals and legal assistants' pay fell 3 percent, to $32,580.

But for some, the gains in pay from the past few years have been wiped out by job losses.

Moses Damian has worked for Santee Print Works since 1994. He started at $8.75 an hour mixing dyes that colored the denim for Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger clothing. "It was a good job, good benefits, and I couldn't afford college," Damian said.

His pay had risen to $12.13 an hour by 2002, and he and his wife's had allowed them to buy a home, cars and provide for their children, now 6 and 11. Then, in May 2002, the plant laid off about 120 of its 1,100 workers. "Unfortunately, I was on the list. People working 15 to 20 years got laid off," he said.

Damian was still jobless in February. "If you work in a plant and have no other trade, it's tough. Everything I learned, I learned hands-on in the plant," he said.

Information from: The State, http://www.thestate.com


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