Governor Henry McMaster and S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) Executive Director Dan Ellzey have announced that South Carolina’s unemployment insurance (UI) tax rates will decrease or remain the same for all employers in 2023. This is the tenth year in a row that the agency, the General Assembly, and the governor’s office have been able to maintain or lower UI business tax thanks to prudent planning.
“Today’s announcement will save South Carolina’s businesses millions of dollars, allowing them to create new jobs for people and invest more in their companies and communities,” said Governor Henry McMaster. “South Carolina is booming and employers are excited to do business in our state. The strength of the unemployment insurance trust fund demonstrates the wise decisions we’ve made that have helped us maintain one of the strongest economies in the nation.”
With a strong balance of approximately $1.4 billion, South Carolina will:
- Set tax year 2023 rates to raise approximately the same level of revenue as 2022 and 2021.
- Rates will either be the same or lower than the prior three years.
- No tax rate class will experience an increased tax rate for 2023.
- Rates will be lower for rate classes 2-19 by an average of 15.5% compared to 2022 levels.
- Not require any solvency surcharge due to the sufficiently high trust fund balance.
- Maintain a balance that ensures the state could withstand a moderate economic contraction.
“Strong economic and wage growth have helped keep the Trust Fund at or above its statutorily required balance,” said S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce Executive Director Dan Ellzey. “For a decade our agency has been able to maintain or lower tax rates and our UI Trust Fund balance is now at a record high. Our unemployment rate continues to be near record lows and substantially below what economists have typically considered “full employment.” Estimates are that revenue needs for 2023 will be approximately $10 million lower than the estimate for 2022, which will mean additional tax savings for most tax rate classes.”
Each year, the agency estimates the unemployment benefits that will be paid in the following year and sets the tax rate to ensure that the trust fund has the revenue to make the payments. The process to determine the tax rates involves an extensive analysis of the economy, the current level of the UI Trust Fund, expected unemployment, estimated benefits that will have to be paid, and revenues that will need to be generated to pay such benefits.
“Our agency is always looking for ways to build the workforce, help fill current jobs, and support employers. In addition to having record employment in 2022, South Carolina’s average hourly earnings have been growing, up more than $3.00 an hour since January of 2020,” continued Ellzey. “If you are a new employer, the maximum tax you would pay per worker has decreased by 73.9% in the past decade. That is substantially lower than both North Carolina and Georgia. And, in that same time period, the number of South Carolina businesses liable for UI taxes has increased 36.7% which helps abate tax charges for everyone.”
During the Great Recession, South Carolina borrowed nearly $1 billion from the federal government in order to continue to provide unemployment benefits. The agency was able to pay off the loan early, saving businesses roughly $12 million in interest. After the loan was paid off in 2015, the Legislature passed new regulations requiring DEW to rebuild the trust fund within five years to a level that would cover potential benefit needs of a typical recession cycle without borrowing from the federal government. The agency completed the rebuild effort in 2019.
Although most pandemic unemployment benefits were paid through federal programs such as Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), the trust fund balances of states were also depleted as UI payments were dispersed. Twenty-three states borrowed money from the federal government to help support UI benefits when claims rose exponentially across the nation, but South Carolina was not one of them. Because of the forethought of the General Assembly and the Governor’s Office, $836.4 million of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act money was applied to the balance of South Carolina’s Trust Fund. This allowed the state’s businesses to recover faster from the pandemic and shift our efforts from unemployment to reemployment.
Although tax rates for most tax classes are lower than their 2022 levels, individual businesses may still move between classes based on their unemployment claim activity. All businesses with charges against their accounts are provided a “charge statement” quarterly to review and have 30 days to protest any charges that they do not believe should be on their account. Tax rate notices will be mailed to businesses on Thursday, November 10, but employers can log into their State Unemployment Insurance Tax System (SUITS) account beginning Monday, November 7, to see their 2023 tax rate.
Click here to view the 2023 tax rate chart. UI Trust Fund Balance and New Employer Tax Rate Cost (Rate Class 12) historical graphs are also attached to this press release. Members of the press can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any media inquiries or interview requests.