COLUMBIA, S.C. - Governor Henry McMaster was joined by S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce Executive Director Dan Ellzey and South Carolina business leaders today to announce that the South Carolina 2020 unemployment insurance tax rates for businesses will be an average of 34 percent lower than 2019. Additionally, the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund is now at a level sufficient to withstand a recession that is the equivalent of the average of the last three recessions.
The solvency of the trust fund means the elimination of all solvency surcharges, for the first time since 2003, including those to repay the 2008-2011 federal loan as well as the five-year rebuild of the state’s trust fund which was depleted during the Great Recession.
“Balancing the requirement to maintain a fiscal safety net while cutting business taxes each year shows that South Carolina is dedicated to making it appealing for companies to do business here so they will continue to create jobs and invest in South Carolinians by expanding opportunities,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. "The 2020 savings are a direct result of the growing economy and the support of South Carolina's business community.”
During the Great Recession, South Carolina needed to borrow nearly $1 billion from the federal government in order to provide unemployment benefits. The agency, however, was able to pay off the loan early, saving businesses $12 million. After the loan was paid off in 2015, the Legislature approved a regulation that requires DEW to rebuild the trust fund within five years to a level that will cover the potential benefit needs without borrowing from the federal government. The agency has now completed that effort.
“Our agency’s mission is to bolster employment throughout the state, and more South Carolinians are now working than ever before with an unemployment rate that is the lowest in recorded history. The best news for these good times is that the trust fund is now prepared to withstand a recession,” said Ellzey. “It is imperative to the state’s ability to support individuals in the case of an economic downturn that we have a strong trust fund, and we are glad to have the resources ready should the citizens of South Carolina need these funds.
“South Carolina is home to more than five thousand manufacturing facilities operating across all 46 of our counties,” said Sara Hazzard, President and CEO of the South Carolina Manufacturers Association. “Our industry employs more than 250,000 South Carolinians, representing 12 percent of our state’s workforce. Today is a celebration that is over a decade in the making. It’s an example of when government and business leaders work together, we can find solutions and our state can be stronger than ever.”
“It truly is a great day for business in South Carolina,” said Ted Pitts, President and CEO of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce. “Less than a decade ago, the state owed the federal government $1 billion, we had 11 percent unemployment, and look where we are today. With almost a $2 billion swing, the trust fund is fully funded and unemployment is at an all time low.”
“This is a day that we’ve been looking forward to for a long time,” said Senator Thomas Alexander, Chairman of the Senate Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee. “I especially want to thank the business community. Without their involvement and leadership in providing jobs for the people of South Carolina, we would not be here today. It’s the money coming out of their pockets that has paid the debt and has provided the opportunity for South Carolina to have a sound system to meet our future needs.”
All liable South Carolina businesses receive a tax rate based on their usage of the system. Tax rate notices will be mailed to more than 120,000 businesses Friday, November 8, but are currently available in an employer’s State Unemployment Insurance Tax System (SUITS) account. A guide showing how to access this rate can be found on DEW's website.
A business which qualifies for tax rate class 12, with 100 employees who paid wages of at least $14,000 per year per worker would pay nearly $4,500 less in unemployment taxes in 2020 than they paid in 2019. The tax rate is a formula based on projected benefit costs for the year and the amount that was required to rebuild the trust fund balance by 2020. New businesses qualify for tax rate class 12.
“With more than 2.31 million South Carolinians working and the unemployment rate at 2.9 percent, these cuts are a welcomed incentive for businesses wanting to expand in this vibrant economy,” said Ellzey. “We are here to assist them with their workforce, particularly in rural areas where individuals may need training, skill assessments, transportation and other services to succeed in long-term, dedicated employment.”