Why Does Anyone Choose to Live in South Carolina?

“I hate to say it, but it does reflect the problems we’re having in the pipeline,” said Melanie Barton, executive director of the state’s Education Oversight Committee, regarding S.C.’s education ranking. “We’re not getting kids out with the skills they need to be successful.

South Carolina ranks dead last among the 50 states in education, falls in the bottom 10 in crime and corrections (41st), infrastructure (43rd) and “opportunity” (48th). 

These results come from the U.S. News & World Report’s inaugural ranking of all 50 states.

Overall, U.S. News pegged the Palmetto State as the sixth worst in nation, coming in at No. 45 in the ranking ahead of New Mexico, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. Massachusetts took the No. 1 spot, followed by New Hampshire, Minnesota, North Dakota and Washington.


“South Carolina has got to wake up. This the 21st century, folks. We’re not gonna go back to an era where a high school diploma means a living wage.” Melanie Barton, executive director of the state’s Education Oversight Committee

John Lane, director of academic affairs at the state Commission on Higher Education, cautioned that the U.S. News report does not provide a complete picture of the quality of the state’s education system. And many of the challenges facing higher education in S.C. — student debt loads, high tuition, low educational attainment — are common among states in the South.

“Other states, we do know, Louisiana in particular, have suffered significant additional cuts in the resources allocated for higher education,” Lane said. “Our cuts have not been so profound as theirs since all of us endured the low tide with the recession, but in the meantime, we’re still trying to understand why some of these trends we’re seeing have persisted.”

The state received high marks in one category: It has the 16th best economy in the nation, according to U.S. News, bolstered by its growing population of young people and positive rate of net migration, meaning far more people are moving to South Carolina than leaving.

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