South Carolina Population 2021

5,277,830
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Situated on the southeastern tip of the United States, South Carolina is one of the smallest states in the country but has a high population density by comparison. South Carolina currently enjoys a growth rate of 1.06%, which ranks 18th in the country.

The last set of confirmed population figures in the United States came with the nationwide Census carried out in 2010. At the time, it was confirmed that there were 4,625,364 people living in the state -- a rise of just over 15% on the figures declared in 2000.

South Carolina Area and Population Density

Like many states on the eastern edge of the country, South Carolina is densely populated in comparison to its relatively small size. The state has an overall surface area of 32,020 square miles (82,931 square kilometers) which makes it just the 40th largest in the US.

For every square mile of South Carolina territory, however, there is an average of 153.9 people. That figure makes the state the 19th most densely populated in the country.

The two largest cities in South Carolina are Columbia (pop 133,803) and Charleston (pop 132,609), followed by North Charleston (pop 108,304). These are the only cities in the state with a population over 100,000.

Interestingly, South Carolina's metropolitan statistical areas are much larger than they appear based on the central city populations. Because of South Carolina law regarding unincorporated areas around city limits, most city proper populations seem smaller than the actual size of the area.

For example, Columbia, Greenville and Charleston each have urbanized area populations between 400,000 and 550,000, with the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) populations exceeding 60,000. The Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson area is by far the largest, accounting for 1.4 million of South Carolina's population.

The leading counties in terms of most populated are the two counties of Greenville and Richland, coming in with respective populations of 506,837 and 411,592. Both counties are enjoying steady growth rates as well.

South Carolina Gender and Religion Statistics

The median age across the population of South Carolina is approximately 38.8 years of age. When we look at the ratio of males to females in the population, 51.5% are female and 48.5% are male.

In terms of preferred religions in the population across the state, South Carolina currently sits at 78% Christian based faith affiliations, 3% non-Christian based faith affiliations, and 19% of the population without any affiliation to any religion.

South Carolina Boundary, Census, and Statehood History

South Carolina was one of the 13 original States. By the time of the 1790 census it had essentially its current boundaries, with some later adjustments following improved surveys. The census has covered all of the State ever since 1790, except for a narrow strip of Indian lands on the northwestern border, first enumerated in 1820. The 1790 census was not completed in South Carolina until early 1792.

South Carolina Demographics

According to the most recent ACS, the racial composition of South Carolina was:

  • White: 67.16%
  • Black or African American: 26.77%
  • Two or more races: 2.31%
  • Other race: 1.76%
  • Asian: 1.57%
  • Native American: 0.35%
  • Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 0.08%

South Carolina Population History

In 1790, the population of South Carolina stood at an already healthy level of 249,073 and ten years later, at the start of the 19th century, those numbers had risen by just under 40% to 345,591. That was a significant rise, although it may not have been quite as substantial as other parts of the country were recording at the time.

The pattern of increases in the population of South Carolina continued to display healthy, if unspectacular, percentage growth and the numbers went beyond the one million mark for the first time in 1890.

South Carolina Population Growth

In the 1900s, percentage growth slowed down to an extent but the overall picture was one of sustained increases through the end of the century. That has also continued to the present day where the South Carolina population is edging closer to the 5 million landmark in 2016.

South Carolina Population Projections

Natural growth and net migration in South Carolina is extremely healthy and there is nothing to suggest that this pattern will change in the years leading up to the next census.

Projections currently estimate South Carolina's population will just barely exceed 5 million by the 2020 Census, with a population over 65 that exceeds the national average.

South Carolina has the 5th highest percentage of Black or African American residents in relation to its total population, with the majority taking up residence in the Midlands and Low Country regions. While the state doesn't have a high percentage of Hispanic or Latino residents, it has seen the most rapid growth of any state in the period between 2000 and 2010. During this ten-year period, the state saw a 147.9% growth in its Hispanic population.

The largest ancestry groups in the state are: African American (29.5%), American (13.9%), English (8.4%), German (8.4%) and Irish (7.9%). For much of the state's history, African slaves and their descendants made up a majority of the state's total population, with whites becoming a majority in the beginning of the early 20th century, when thousands of blacks moved to the north. Today, most of the African American population lives in the Midlands and Lowcountry areas.

South Carolina Growth Rate

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South Carolina Population Rank

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South Carolina Population 2021

  • The Cherokee, Catawba, and Yamasee were the largest Native American groups that lived on the land that now comprises the state of South Carolina.
  • The first English settlement was established in 1670 at Albemarle Point. Because of poor conditions in this area, early settlers relocated to Charleston.
  • South Carolina seceded from the Union in 1861 and was the first state to do so.
  • South Carolina is now the Palmetto State, but it was once known as the Iodine State.
  • The Carolina colony was divided in 1729 into North Carolina and South Carolina.
  • Morgan Island in South Carolina has no human population. However, it is home to well over 3,500 free-range monkeys, thus earning the location the nickname of Monkey Island.
  • Nearly one-quarter of the soldiers fighting in the Civil War were killed in battle, with a total of nearly 2/3 of all casualties resulting in death overall (including citizens).
  • An average of 28.5 million people visit the state annually.

South Carolina Facts

Greenville County

  • Population541,384
  • Density689.52 per sq km
  • Growth Since 201019.59%
  • State Population Rank1
  • % of State10.26%

Data from the 2010 Census, when compared to estimates taken in 2015 by the US Census Bureau, shows that the counties of South Carolina have seen significant increases and decreases in population. Multiple counties in the state experienced population growth exceeding 10%, including the highest gain posted in Horry County at 14.3%. Other significant population increases include Berkeley County at 13.34%, Jasper County at 11.65%, and Charleston County at 10.88%, all located in the easternmost region of the state. Counties along the northern border that exhibited significant growth include Greenville, Lancaster, and Cherokee.

Some counties also saw declining populations during this 5-year period. Allendale County's 8.81% loss was the highest in the state, followed by Bamberg and Lee Counties at 6.82% loss per county. Other population declines were recorded in Williamsburg, McCormick, Chester, Hampton, and Spartanburg.

South Carolina Population Growth Rate by County

Greenville County

  • Population541,384
  • Density689.52 per sq km
  • Growth Since 201019.59%
  • State Population Rank1
  • % of State10.26%

South Carolina Population Density by County

Population by Race

Race Population Percentage
White3,372,01067.16%
Black or African American1,344,14326.77%
Two or More Races115,9302.31%
Some Other Race88,2741.76%
Asian78,8051.57%
American Indian and Alaska Native17,6450.35%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander4,0020.08%
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South Carolina Population by Race

South Carolina Population Pyramid 2021

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South Carolina Median Age

39.4


Total

37.8


Male

40.9


Female

South Carolina Adults

There are 3,918,300 adults, (863,558 of whom are seniors) in South Carolina.

South Carolina Age Dependency

64.4

Age Dependency Ratio

28.3

Old Age Dependency Ratio

36.1

Child Dependency Ratio

South Carolina Sex Ratio

Female

2,585,330

51.49%

Male

2,435,470

48.51%

South Carolina Population by Age

South Carolina Renter vs Owner Occupied by Household Type

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South Carolina Household Types

Type Owner Renter
Married84.6%15.4%
All69.4%30.6%
Male58.5%41.5%
Non Family57.5%42.5%
Female51%49%

69.4%

Rate of Home Ownership

South Carolina Households and Families

Type Count Average Size Owned
All1,921,8602.5469.4
Married906,2793.1184.6
Non Family660,2311.2557.5
Female271,8343.5251
Male83,5183.3758.5

3.14

Average Family Size

2.54

Average Household Size

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South Carolina Households by Type

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Education Attained Count Percentage
Less Than 9th Grade139,6344.05%
9th to 12th Grade290,8578.44%
High School Graduate1,003,18029.10%
Some College706,77120.50%
Associates Degree337,2539.78%
Bachelors Degree614,15617.82%
Graduate Degree355,12310.30%
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South Carolina Educational Attainment by Sex (over 25)

South Carolina Educational Attainment by Race

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Name Total High School Bachelors
White2,324,9802,111,920769,475
Black870,680718,265137,158
Hispanic150,34397,68324,086
Asian54,33747,66427,294
Other Race47,91027,7335,744
Multiple Races41,62535,93410,702
Native American12,0349,3601,617
Islander2,1181,924286

The highest rate of high school graduation is among islander people with a rate of 90.84%.

The highest rate of bachelors degrees is among asian people with a rate of 50.23%.

South Carolina Educational Attainment by Race

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Name Average Male Female
Overall$36,088$42,534$30,679
Less Than High School$21,391$25,135$16,002
High School Grad$28,940$33,279$23,227
Some College$34,096$42,705$28,285
Bachelors Degree$49,440$62,543$39,929
Graduate Degree$59,295$76,763$52,353

$36,088

Average Earnings

$42,534

Average Male

$30,679

Average Female

South Carolina Earnings by Educational Attainment

South Carolina Language by Age

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South Carolina Language

92.84% of South Carolina residents speak only English, while 7.16% speak other languages. The non-English language spoken by the largest group is Spanish, which is spoken by 4.56% of the population.

South Carolina Language

South Carolina Poverty by Race

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Name Total In Poverty Poverty Rate
White3,120,560319,13710.23%
Black1,294,900317,75724.54%
Hispanic275,28172,12326.20%
Other86,37926,16630.29%
Multiple109,80624,46922.28%
Asian76,42710,23713.39%
Native17,2593,87322.44%
Islander3,64583923.02%

15.20%

Overall Poverty Rate

13.59%

Male Poverty Rate

16.70%

Female Poverty Rate

Poverty in South Carolina

The race most likely to be in poverty in South Carolina is Other, with 30.29% below the poverty level.

The race least likely to be in poverty in South Carolina is White, with 10.23% below the poverty level.

The poverty rate among those that worked full-time for the past 12 months was 3.20%. Among those working part-time, it was 18.78%, and for those that did not work, the poverty rate was 21.93%.

South Carolina Poverty

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Name Poverty
Less Than High School28.64%
High School14.91%
Some College9.93%
Bachelors or Greater4.04%

South Carolina Poverty Rate by Education

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Name Poverty
Female Unemployed39.16%
Male Unemployed28.31%
Female Employed8.80%
Male Employed5.60%

South Carolina Poverty Rate by Employment Status and Sex

South Carolina Income by Household Type

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Name Median Mean
Households$53,199$73,520
Families$66,357$87,127
Married Families$81,518$103,302
Non Families$31,063$44,840
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Income by Household Type

South Carolina Marital Status

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Marriage Rates

47.3%

Overall Marriage Rate

49.6%

Male Marriage Rate

45.2%

Female Marriage Rate

South Carolina Married by Age and Sex

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South Carolina Marriage

The age group where males are most likely to be married is Over 65, while the female age group most likely to be married is 45-54.

South Carolina Marital Status by Race

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South Carolina Marital Status

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365,139

Number of Veterans

329,264

Male Veterans

35,875

Female Veterans

War Veterans
Vietnam137,411
First Gulf War88,392
Second Gulf War73,909
Korea23,695
World War II8,376

South Carolina Veterans by War

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Age Group Veterans
65 to 74100,918
35 to 5489,043
75+72,605
55 to 6470,910
18 to 3431,663

South Carolina Veterans by Age

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Name Veterans % of Total
White270,04710.06%
Black84,6648.37%
Hispanic8,7174.89%
2 or More4,7948.72%
Other1,9003.34%
Indian1,77412.98%
Asian1,5852.58%
Hawaiian37515.26%

South Carolina Veterans by Race

South Carolina Veterans by Education

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6.89%

Veteran Poverty Rate

29.53%

Veteran Disability Rate

South Carolina Veterans by Education

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60.5%

Labor Force Participation

56.3%

Employment Rate

5.8%

Unemployment Rate

South Carolina Employment by Age

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South Carolina Employment by Race

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South Carolina Employment by Education

Origin of Non-Citizens

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Non citizens include legal permanent residents (green card holders), international students, temporary workers, humanitarian migrants, and illegal immigrants.

Origin of Naturalized Citizens

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56.30%

Born in South Carolina

94.97%

Native Born

5.03%

Foreign Born

2.94%

Non Citizen

2.09%

Naturalized

Place of Birth

94.97% of South Carolina residents were born in the United States, with 56.30% having been born in South Carolina. 2.94% of residents are not US citizens. Of those not born in the United States, the largest percentage are from Latin America.

South Carolina Place of Birth