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N.C. and S.C.: How do we compare?

Posted: April 25, 2014 12:51 p.m.
Updated: April 28, 2014 5:00 a.m.

I have always had a thing about North Carolina. Simply put, I don’t like them.

They stole our name. They try to steal our only president, Andy Jackson. They are twice as big as we are. And what really pains me the most is they usually do things better than we do.

First, the essential facts.

Our name: The first legitimate royal charter was given to the eight Lords Proprietors in 1663 for the Province of Carolina based in Charleston. In 1691 a separate deputy governor was appointed for what is now North Carolina and we became two separate provinces in 1712, but they kept our name and just added ”North” to it.

Second is Andy Jackson. He was born in the Waxhaws section of South Carolina in 1767. In 1824, Jackson wrote a letter saying that he was born at an uncle’s plantation in Lancaster County, South Carolina, but the folks up north of the border refuse to accept this and still claim him for themselves. It just ain’t so and Andy said so -- enough said.

And size. Their population is 9.7 million and we are 4.7 million. They are about 48,000 square miles and we are about 30,000.

All of this is just simple fact … beyond dispute.

Now, as to the “better” part, let’s reserve judgment for a while. Politico and several other sources cited below have provided the basis for this comparison and at the risk of simply filling this column with nothing but statistics, let me do just that for comparison’s sake.

Economics -- In per-capita income, North Carolina residents earned an average of $25,285 (37th in the nation), while a South Carolina resident earned $23,906 (43rd). In terms of per-capita gross state product, N.C. is at $40,289 and S.C. is far behind at $31,881. North Carolina has a lower poverty rate of 16.8 percent than South Carolina, where the poverty rate is 17.6 percent.

North Carolina has a higher percentage of people, 4.9 percent, employed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics than does South Carolina, which has 4.3 percent.

Average home values are $144,900 in N.C. and $126,500 in S.C.

Education -- N.C. has a slightly higher high school graduation rate of 84.5 percent than S.C. with 84 percent. Twenty-six percent of adults have a bachelor’s degree in N.C. and the number is 24 percent in S.C. In eighth-grade math scores, North Carolina ranked 25th in the country, while South Carolina ranked 33rd. In eighth-grade reading scores, North Carolina ranked 35th, and South Carolina was 41st.

Of Newsweek Magazine’s list of the top 1,000 high schools in the country, 20 were in North Carolina. Three were in South Carolina.

Higher Education -- Of U.S. News & World Report’s top-rated universities, North Carolina had seven on the list, including Duke, Wake Forest and UNC-Chapel Hill. South Carolina had two. When Washington Monthly rated the 50 best community colleges in the U.S., four were in North Carolina, and just one was in South Carolina.

Life Expectancy and Crime -- Life expectancy in North Carolina is 77.8 years compared with 77 in South Carolina. And you are safer there, in that North Carolina also has a much lower crime rate, ranked 28th, than South Carolina, which ranked 46th.

Fortune 500 Companies -- They kill us here. They have 12 Fortune 500 companies headquartered in their state, led by Bank of America, which is number 21 on the list. S.C. essentially has none; one company, Domtar, (ranked at 458th), lists its operational center in Rock Hill but its head office is in Canada.

As bleak as all of this seems, there are still areas where South Carolina is best.

Homeownership -- South Carolina has a higher level of homeownership at 69.5 percent than North Carolina at 67.1 percent.

Health -- A lower percentage of South Carolinians are obese, 27.9 percent, than in North Carolina, where 28.9 percent are obese.

Unemployment -- South Carolina also has less unemployment, with a 5.5 percent rate in March compared with a 6.3 percent rate for North Carolina.

Taxes -- The statistic that conservatives like the most is taxes. In 2010, North Carolina had a state-local tax burden of 9.9 percent, which was the 17th-highest in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation, a conservative leaning group in Washington, D.C. That compared with South Carolina, which had an 8.4 percent tax burden and had the 41st highest tax burden.

Sports -- Here, we clearly kick their butt. We could go on and on about the many lopsided football victories of both Clemson and USC of the last few years, but we -- and N.C. -- know that we are the best by far. Also, we are miles ahead in college baseball as well. Basketball, well let’s move on.

BBQ -- And by the standard that some would claim as the most important of all -- BBQ -- the folks up there hardly know how to start a fire, much less slow cook a decent pig.

Now, I know that this list isn’t perfect and others will point to other statistics as being more important or valid. And the truth is the differences are far smaller than the similarities, so I guess it just comes down to what’s important to you.

If you think football, baseball and BBQ are the most important measures of success, then we’re best. If it’s things like making a good living and educating your children that are important to you -- then not so much.

Anyway, I still hate those guys.

(Phil Noble is a businessman in Charleston and president of the SC New Democrats, an independent reform group founded by former Gov. Richard Riley. His column is provided by the S.C. News Exchange.)

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