South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley laid out her vision for racial equality at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.—a speech partially inspired by her state’s recent harrowing Emanuel Nine experience. It also presented Haley’s vision for South Carolina’s position in what she called the “New South”—not to be confused with the “New South” designation claimed by Atlanta in the 1990s, or by Charlotte in 2000s. For Haley, South Carolina’s New South embraces racial justice through its robust jobs and schools. Haley’s math on that was 70,000 jobs created and close to $17 billion invested (what it was invested in she didn’t say) over the past five years, plus a significant drop in the state’s unemployment rate. Said Haley:
To me, the single-most important thing is the standard of living, and that is mostly driven by the opportunity to find good jobs that pay good wages. … And more South Carolinians are working today than ever before in our state's history. … These jobs are going into places like where I grew up, and many of them will go to African-Americans and other minorities. … These developments have a clear connection to racial equality.
Looking at economic stats across the state, the only clear connection is inequality, much of that based on decisions that Haley has made as governor. It is true that employment is rising in the state: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported job growth in South Carolina’s seven largest counties from September 2013 to September 2014. It is not clear at all, however, that many of those jobs are going to African-Americans.
According to the Urban League’s 2015 State of Black America report, which measures income and employment disparities among the nation’s top 70 major metro regions, South Carolina has little to brag about. It should be said upfront that in the Urban League report’s equality indexes, none of the 70 metros across the nation examined did well on these disparities. The narrowest unemployment racial gap is found in Providence, Rhode Island, where there’s a 13 percent Black unemployment rate versus an 8.5 percent for Whites, which is still significantly wide.