Inflation in SC shows need for bold tax cuts

Record breaking prices are making everyday life harder for Americans, especially for some in South Carolina. Indeed, by some measurements, the Palmetto State (and the South generally) is experiencing higher inflation than the rest of the country.  

The big picture 

In the South, overall prices have jumped by 8.8% in the last year (Apr 2021 – Apr 2022). For comparison, that’s twice the rate of inflation than was seen during the same period across 2020 – 2021. Inflation in the South is also slightly higher than the national 12-month rate for all measured items (8.3%).

Price increases over the last year

Food: 9.3% 

  • Meat, poultry, fish and eggs: 14.1% 
  • Cereal and bakery products: 10.8% 
  • Dairy: 8.5% 
  • Fruits and vegetables: 5.7% 

Electricity: 11.4% 

New and used vehicles 17.3% 

Medical care: 3.6% 

Apparel: 7% 

*The above data represents price increases for the South, which covers 16 states including South Carolina. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which gathers Consumer Price Index information, does not provide state-specific data.

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Housing 

The price of housing has surged over the last year in South Carolina. Rents have increased in population centers like Greenville, Charleston and Rock Hill at a rate beyond the national average, and home values across the state have climbed faster than much of the rest of the country.  

According to Zillow, the typical home value in South Carolina is $280,000 – up almost 26% since this time last year. The typical home value in the U.S. increased by 21% in the same period. This is no doubt great news for homeowners, but new buyers and renters should expect to pay a premium until the market cools down.  

Rent prices by city 

Columbia 

  • Since March 2020: 25.6% increase 
  • Since April 2021: 16.2% increase 

Charleston 

  • Since March 2020: 23.2% increase 
  • Since April 2021: 19% increase 

Myrtle Beach  

  • Since March 2020: 38.1% increase 
  • Since April 2021: 26.1% increase 

Rock Hill  

  • Since March 2020: 40% increase 
  • Since April 2021: 28.8% increase 

Greenville 

  • Since March 2020: 18.5% increase 
  • Since April 2021: 19.1% increase 

To view prices for other SC cities, click here (map at the bottom of page)

For comparison, the typical rent in the U.S. went up 16.4% in the last year.

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Fuel 

Perhaps nowhere have rising prices been more visible than at the gas pump. Like the rest of the country, gas prices in South Carolina have skyrocketed in the last year, breaking all-time price-per-gallon records multiple times in recent days.  

The average price of regular gas in South Carolina is $4.29 per gallon; this time last year it was $2.87. That’s an increase of nearly 50% – significantly higher than price jumps seen in other categories.  

South Carolina’s gas tax will also rise by two cents on July 1 (the final increase set by the 2017 gas-tax-hike law). At that point, the state gas tax will account for an extra 28 cents per gallon.  

Most expensive counties for gas 

  • Hampton: $4.40 
  • Barnwell: $4.39 
  • Clarendon: $4.38 

Least expensive counties for gas 

  • Chesterfield: $4.23 
  • Edgefield: $4.23 
  • Marion: $4.24 

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A good time for tax relief  

While state lawmakers don’t have as much control over economic policy as the federal government, there’s one thing they can always do to provide relief: cut taxes. Fortunately, the S.C. Legislature is finalizing the details of a bill that would lower the state personal income tax, which is expected to pass during the June special session.  

We have noted that our state government is expecting a $5 billion revenue surplus for next fiscal year, part of which will be recurring – meaning it could be used to permanently cut taxes. We urge lawmakers to use this opportunity to maximize tax relief so that South Carolinians can keep more of their money in the face of such historic inflation. 

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