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South Carolina 2019 Income Compared to 2021

South Carolina 2019 Income Compared to 2021

By Carol Hayman, Workforce Insights Analyst 

South Carolinians are making more money than before the pandemic, but that money won't buy as much due to inflation. According to an analysis of 2019 and 2021 IRS income tax data conducted by The Post and Courier1 on April 15, 2024, the average South Carolina household income rose more than $11,000 in that timeframe, from $63,516 to $74,835. That’s an increase of almost 18 percent. This selected time frame provides a rough snapshot of household wages before and after the COVID pandemic began.

South Carolina Individual Income Tax Returns: Size of AGI, Tax Years 2019 vs. 2021

Size of adjusted gross income by county

2019 Number of returns2

2019 Percent

2021 Number of returns2

2021 Percent

# Change of returns 2019 to 2021

% Change of returns 2019 to 2021

SOUTH CAROLINA

2,356,370

100.0%

2,447,340

100.0%

90,970

3.9%

Under $1

31,290

1.3%

54,020

2.2%

22,730

72.6%

$1 under $10,000

311,850

13.2%

296,590

12.1%

(15,260)

-4.9%

$10,000 under $25,000

515,130

21.9%

485,140

19.8%

(29,990)

-5.8%

$25,000 under $50,000

603,270

25.6%

608,200

24.9%

4,930

0.8%

$50,000 under $75,000

317,190

13.5%

334,820

13.7%

17,630

5.6%

$75,000 under $100,000

196,100

8.3%

208,260

8.5%

12,160

6.2%

$100,000 under $200,000

286,230

12.1%

329,340

13.5%

43,110

15.1%

$200,000 or more

95,310

4.0%

130,970

5.4%

35,660

37.4%

Source: IRS, Statistics of Income Division, Individual Master File System, February 2024.

South Carolina households mostly brought in stronger income in 2021. Tax returns with an adjusted gross income of $25,000 or less dropped off significantly since 2019, and there were many more households reporting $100,000 or more.

Consumer Prices Over Time

The data shows that household gains in earnings have unfortunately been neutralized (or worse) by inflation. The cost of living has risen 21% since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Housing prices were up 22 percent since then and food prices rose 25 percent. The graph below tracks the rise and fall of consumer prices since 2019.

Rise and fall of consumer prices since 2019

Source: US Department of Labor

Conclusion

Although 2021 tax returns show South Carolina households getting richer, high levels of inflation may have cut into those gains, leaving many with less purchasing power than they had before the pandemic. Inflation is trending back to 2019 levels, however, which could provide some relief.

 

1The Post and Courier, April 2024

2 "Number," here, and elsewhere, represents number of returns, unless otherwise specified. The number of returns has been rounded to the nearest ten.