COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – We’re taking a closer look at South Carolina’s labor participation rate and some of the barriers to employment some South Carolinians are facing.

According to data shared by the state Department of Employment and Workforce (SC DEW), South Carolina’s labor force participation rate is at about 56% despite experiencing record-low unemployment.

Officials said that South Carolina’s labor force participation rate is about six percentage points below the national average and is fourth lowest in the country.

This rate represents the percentage of South Carolinians over the age of 16 who are currently working or actively looking for work.

A task force studying the issue in South Carolina surveyed South Carolinians who were working in 2019, were unemployed in 2020, and did not work in 2021.

Their survey found 28% of respondents were not working but available to work. The highest percentage of respondents who fit into this category lived in Tier IV counties.

The South Carolina Department of Revenue ranks the state’s 46 counties in four different tiers depending on their per capita income and unemployment rate. Officials say Tier IV counties tend to be more rural and low-income.

According to the respondents, the main barrier from employment is the lack of transportation options. The percentage of respondents who listed that as a barrier was higher in Tier IV than any of the other counties.

A report presented to the task force suggested focusing on low-cost and accessible transportation projects that connect workers to job centers.