TOP FIVE: Hate crimes, joblessness, economic stability and more

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By Lindsay Street, Statehouse correspondent  |  Our weekly Top Five feature offers big stories or views from the past week or so with policy and legislative implications that you need to read because of how they could impact South Carolina.  If you have stories to suggest to our readers, send to:  feedback@statehousereport.com.

  1. S.C. hate crimes a reach lowest recorded level, says FBI data, The Post and Courier, Nov. 19, 2017.

Hate crimes appear to be down in the Palmetto State, while they have risen nationwide. But advocates said the new FBI statistics are skewed because South Carolina lacks hate crime legislation. An excerpt:

“Law enforcement agencies in the Palmetto State tallied 23 reports of hate crimes in 2016, its lowest level since the FBI started compiling the data in 1996. The number dipped from the 69 reported in 2015, when nine black church worshippers were slain in Charleston by self-avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof in one of the deadliest hate crimes in recent American history. Nationwide, though, hate crime reports rose from 5,850 in 2015 to 6,100 last year, their highest level since 2011.”

  1. South Carolina’s jobless rate holds steady, S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, Nov. 17, 2017.

The state’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.9 percent for October, according to state data. Over the past five months, the state’s unemployment rate has remained in the 3.9 to 4 percent range  — levels not seen in nearly 17 years, according to the state’s Department of Employment and Workforce. Executive Director Cheryl Stanton released this statement:

“Last month South Carolina’s robust economy grew further, with businesses hiring more people in nearly every industry sector. The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce has done its part in relieving businesses’ tax burden by saving businesses nearly $700 million in unemployment insurance taxes since 2013. This is money that businesses can and have used to reinvest in South Carolina workers.”

  1. You can compare S.C. school districts, schools with new report cards, S.C. Department of Education, Nov. 15, 2017.

Public schools and school districts received their annual report cards last week, in accordance state and federal laws. The S.C. Department of Education touted a  2 percent increase for state high school graduation rates with an all-time high of 84.6 percent. But  critics noted the rate rose in the same year the state went to a 10-point grading scale. State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman had this to say:

“Report cards play an instrumental role in providing transparency and accountability to parents and the public on the performance of our schools. I encourage the public to pay close attention to the important information contained in the report cards so that we can make informed decisions together in the best interest of our students.”

  1. Columbia gets low marks for economic stability, Urban Institute, November 2017.

Columbia residents have lower credit scores and are delinquent on debt more than the national averages. But the city did well in health insurance coverage (88 percent of the population) and labor force participation (66 percent). Columbia was the only South Carolina city in the study. An excerpt:

“Cities in this peer group tend to have relatively high shares of residents who do not have a bank account. Residents without a bank or credit union account may have a harder time paying bills, saving, accessing credit, investing in a home, or starting a business.”

  1. State doesn’t extend foster care beyond 18 years old, National Conference of State Legislatures, Nov. 9, 2017.

South Carolina is among 25 states that has not chosen to extend foster care beyond 18 years old. One-in-five people who age out of foster care at 18 years old are homeless, according to this report.  Furthermore, one in four  encounter the criminal justice system within two years of aging out. An excerpt:

“Nearly a quarter of the approximately 427,000 children in foster care are age 14 or older and more than 18,000 young people age out of foster care at age 18 each year. The challenges facing older youth in foster are immense … Supporting older youth involves many components, including the option to extend foster care or allow reentry into foster care, providing the most normal childhood experience possible through extracurricular activities, educational stability and opportunity, transitioning from foster care to independent living, and housing. When looking at these policy options, the ability to engage current and former foster youth is invaluable.”

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