Largely rural state becoming more urban

- By Ron Barnett The Greenville (S.C.) News

Fueled by the growth in counties near Charleston and Myrtle Beach as well as nearby Charlotte, N.C., South Carolina’s population swelled 15.3% in the past decade to rank among the nation’s 10 fastest-growing states, 2010 U.S. Census data released Wednesday show.

“South Carolina is becoming increasing­ly more of an urban state,” said Doug Woodward, a research economist at the University of South Carolina. “That’s where the jobs are. That’s where people want to be. ”

Greenville County, on the Interstate 85 corridor between Atlanta and Charlotte, grew 18.9%, adding 71,609 people. The largest percentage growth came in Dorchester County, just outside Charleston, which grew nearly 42%. York County, in the suburbs of Charlotte, and Horry County, home of the vacation and retirement area of Myrtle Beach, each grew about 37%.

A significan­t reason for that, Woodward said, is the large number of African Americans moving from cities into suburbs where there are more job opportunit­ies and housing.

A 148% increase in the Hispanic population was another factor in the state’s growth. Hispanics accounted for 23% of the state’s increase and now make up 5.1% of the total, up from 2.4% in the 2000 Census.

The state’s non-Hispanic white population grew nearly 12% and the non-Hispanic black population grew 8.6%. Blacks remained the state’s largest minority population at 28%. The Asian population surged 64% and is 1.3% of the state’s total.

Some rural counties — including Williamsbu­rg, Hampton and Laurens — lost population.

“The history of those counties is largely agricultur­al and lowskilled manufactur­ing,” said Curtis Simon, an associate professor of economics at Clemson University.

“In an era of globalizat­ion, those people are going to have a hard time competing,” he said.

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