South Carolina

The Palmetto State
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State Highlights
  • Total Latino Population


  • Median Age of Latinos


  • Median Income of Latinos 16+


  • # of Latino Registered Voters


  • Latinos Without Health Insurance


  • Latino Homeownership


  • Latinos as % of All Under 18



From 2000 to 2014, the Latino population in South Carolina increased by 171.3% and accounted for 20.4% of the state’s total population growth. 1

In 2014, South Carolina’s Latino population totaled 261,752 and constituted 5.4% of the state’s total population 2

Much of the Latino population is concentrated in North Charleston, Columbia, and Hilton Head Island. 3 The two counties with the largest Latino populations were Greenville and Richland. 4

In 2014, South Carolina’s Latino citizen voting age population numbered 106,000. 5

Furthermore, Latino registered voters totaled 48,000 and constituted 2.0% of all registered voters in the state. 6

Approximately 29.2% of Latino registered voters cast ballots during the November 2014 elections. 7


South Carolina is one of seven states that implemented elements from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ naturalization exam into their high school curricula. SC S437 requires high school students to fulfill their social studies graduation requirements by pass a test based on the civics section of the exam. 8


South Carolina passed SC S356, which requires notaries have the ability to read/write in English and be registered to vote. Additionally, they are not allowed to offer advice on immigration-related issues and must inform clients as such. 9

South Carolina was one of twenty-six states that filed a lawsuit against the federal government, arguing that President Obama’s suspension of immigration laws was unconstitutional. 10


The state passed SC H3710, which earmarks money to be used to create and maintain a hotline that will keep track of all allegations of violations of immigration law. 11

66.8% of Latinos were citizens of the United States (58.4% were native born and 8.3% were naturalized). 12

41.6% of Latinos were foreign born. 13

74.1% of Latinos 5-years of age and older spoke Spanish. 14

Of Latino Spanish-speakers 5-years of age and older, 48.1% spoke English “very well”, 20.7% spoke English “well”, 21.9% spoke English “not well”, and 9.3% spoke English “not at all.” 15

The median age of Latinos was 26.8 years compared to 41.9 years for Whites. 16

35.2% of Latinos were under 18 years of age compared to 20.1% of Whites. 17

Latinos comprise 8.4% of all persons under the age of 18. 18

Of Latinos 25-years of age and older, 39.7% had less than a high school diploma (compared to 11.1% of Whites), 27.9% had a high school diploma, GED, or alternative credential (compared to 28.5% of Whites), 18.3% had some college or an Associate’s degree (compared to 30.1% of Whites), 9.3% had a Bachelor’s degree (compared to 19.5% of Whites), and 4.9% had a Graduate degree (compared to 10.9% of Whites). 19

Median household incomes totaled $35,595 for Latinos and $51,912 for Whites (in 2014 inflation-adjusted dollars). 20

35.5% of Latinos lacked health insurance compared to 10.9% of Whites. 21

45.2% of Latino households were owner occupied (compared to 74.6% of White households) and 54.8% were renter occupied (compared to 25.4% of White households). 22

6.7% of Latinos were unemployed compared to 6.1% of Whites. 23

The number of Latino-owned businesses grew 242.7% over a 10-year period, going from 3,015 in 2002 to 10,332 in 2012. 24 25

In 2012, receipts for Latino-owned businesses totaled $1.9 million, representing an increase of 6.2% from 2007. 26 27

In 2012, Latino-owned businesses employed 10,465 people with an annual payroll of $289,017. 28

In 2015, the Latino purchasing power in South Carolina totaled $5.6 billion. 29

From 2000 to 2014, South Carolina’s immigrant population increased 97.1%, growing from 115,978 in 2000 to 228,553 in 2014 (immigrant share of 4.7% in 2014). 30

In 2014, 30.8% of immigrants living in South Carolina entered the U.S. before 1990, 24.2% entered between 1990 and 1999, 29.8% entered between 2000 and 2009, and 15.2% entered after 2010. 31

According to a U.S. Census Bureau 2014 estimate, 51.4% of immigrants living in South Carolina were born in Latin America, 23.5% were born in Asia, 16.2% were born in Europe, 5.1% were born in Africa, and 3.9% were born in other regions. 32

37.9% of all immigrants in South Carolina were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2014. 33

In 2012, 111,535 people (or 4.5% of all registered voters in South Carolina) were newly naturalized citizens or U.S. born children of immigrants. 34

In 2014, foreign-born workers totaled 141,882 and made-up 5.6% of South Carolina’s workforce. 35

Between 2009 and 2013, 60,000 undocumented immigrants held permanent jobs in South Carolina, representing 66% of the undocumented civilian population. 36 In 2008, The Perryman Group found that removing undocumented immigrants from South Carolina would result in a $1.8 billion loss in economic activity and a $782.9 million loss in gross state product, as well as a loss of 12,059 jobs. 37

Undocumented immigrants in South Carolina paid $69.3 million in state and local taxes in 2012. 38

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