January 21, 2008 / 8:34 PM / 13 years ago

FACTBOX: South Carolina voting is first in the South

(Reuters) - Voters in South Carolina are casting ballots in a Democratic primary on Saturday, a week after the state’s Republicans went to the polls.

Here are some facts about the state, the first in the South to hold a nominating contest.

* South Carolina is the nation’s 11th fastest-growing state. Its 2007 population of 4.4 million grew 9.9 percent between 2000 and 2007. The U.S. population grew by 7.2 percent during that same time period.

* South Carolina has a higher percentage of blacks, 29 percent, a lower percentage of Hispanics, 3.5 percent, and a lower percentage of foreign-born residents, 4.1 percent, than the nation as a whole, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

* South Carolina is bleeding manufacturing jobs, especially due to competition from low-cost imports from China. The continuing losses pushed the state’s jobless rate to 5.8 percent in December (compared with a national average of 5 percent), according to the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

* South Carolina’s beach areas depend heavily on tourism, where jobs tend to be low-paying, so raising the minimum wage is a big issue.

* The military is also a significant employer — the state is home to 15 major military installations and has a substantial veteran population.

* Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards won the Democratic primary in South Carolina, where he was born, during his unsuccessful 2004 presidential bid. Recent polls have shown him running a distant third to rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as this year’s Democratic contest approaches.

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