Unemployment Driving Surge in South Carolina Foreclosures

by on Foreclosures

Unemployment has been among the major drivers of continued surges in South Carolina foreclosures. The 12.2-percent unemployment rate of South Carolina in March was the sixth-highest jobless rate in the country during the month, despite marking an improvement from the 12.4-percent rate in February.

As more homeowners lost their sources of income, foreclosure filings rose by nearly 34 percent year-over-year in South Carolina in the first quarter.

The rate of entry of residential properties into bank listings for sale in South Carolina was highest in the Lowcountry counties of Charleston and Berkeley, in the largest counties of Midlands and in Upstate counties.

Foreclosures filings shot up by more than 150 percent in Charleston and in Berkeley and spiked by more than 100 percent in Upstate counties. In Greenville County, foreclosures in the first quarter surged by 14 percent year-over-year. It was in Dorchester County where foreclosures slowed by almost 22 percent.

More cheap properties could be found in Anderson where foreclosure postings shot up by a staggering 166 percent and in Spartanburg where foreclosures spiked by 136 percent compared to the previous quarter.

As the state lost 15,300 jobs and added 11,000 workers more to its unemployed list compared to employment data in March last year, the pace of South Carolina foreclosures continued to surge.

Foreclosure postings in South Carolina surged by almost 16 percent month-over-month in January to 3,101 and increased by 0.42 percent to 3,114 in February. The ranking of the state in foreclosure rate moved up from 22nd in January to 20th in February. This meant that some other states had more significant improvements in their foreclosure situation than South Carolina.

The number of bank owned foreclosures statewide increased from 1,028 in January to 1,080 in February.

With an unemployment rate of 20.7 percent, Marion County had the highest jobless rate in March in South Carolina, although the rate was lower than the county jobless rate of 22.7 percent in February. The lowest jobless rates were posted by Lexington and Aiken, which both had 8.5 percent.

Despite the still high jobless rate statewide, South Carolina gained jobs in the hospitality, trade, utilities and transportation sectors.

To track employment more closely and help cut down the pace of South Carolina foreclosures, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford passed a law that put the Employment Security Commission under his direct supervision. The commission has been criticized for depleting its funds and forcing the state to borrow funds from the national government to pay jobless benefits.