AA Learn more about in-home care options for your loved ones

Given the choice, most of us want to stay in our homes. Sometimes, people need help to remain at home. That's where Always Best Care Senior Services comes in.

Personal Care Consultation


“Always Best Care is a great company to work for and if you are looking for care for a loved one, I highly recommend them. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable and supportive. I work in the senior industry and recommend Always Best Care to my clients that need extra support in their home or while family is away. Always Best Care will respond immediately and truly show compassion to others.”

Dusty B.

“The Staff, the care teams and the owners are one of a kind! They take the time to ensure your care needs are met. Highly recommend giving them a call if you have senior care or senior living questions or concerns.”

Melisa B.

“Nate took the time to meet with me and my family and help make sense of the questions we had when it came to the short and long term care of our loved one. When you have an elderly parent or a loved one with disabilities there are so many questions and so many emotions. It can be so confusing and it was hard for us to find one person or one company that has the knowledge and grasp of this industry that Nate has. We cannot thank him enough for guiding us through this process and his amazing bedside manner!”

pam C.

“Hello to all of my Always Best Care friends, I'd like to wish you and your families a Merry, Blessed Christmas and a Happy, Prosperous New Year!  My brother, my dad, and I really appreciate everything you did for us this year.  You're amazing! All the best for the Christmas season and 2023,”

Neal L.

“This is one of the best companies I’ve worked for in a long time. The owners, Nate and Melisa, genuinely care about clients AND staff. They go above and beyond to support, encourage, and help everyone they work with. Their doors are always open, they’re generous with their time, and they truly want their staff to succeed. Donna in the billing department is fabulous, always available to answer questions or help in any way; Katrina in scheduling puts in so much time and effort to accommodate everyone’s needs and it’s amazing how well she handles everything; Angel works diligently on recruiting and training, making sure there’s plenty of staff to provide quality care; and Jackie is an incredible CHAMP, making sure clients are properly reassessed and care givers have the right tools and knowledge to do their job. ABC is a fantastic, compassionate, caring team I’m proud to be a part of, and I’m proud to serve our clients, too.”

Gina B.

“They have taken care of several of my friends and ever one of them has had an amazing experience. Very professional and friendly!”

John G.

“Always Best Care is like the name sounds, excellent care for your loved ones. The staff goes above and beyond to make certain the needs of your family member are met with kindness and dignity. Senior care is a difficult choice and Always Best Care of Columbia makes it easy, with compassion and are truly helpful in every way possible. The staff geniunely listens and cares about your expectations! I would highly recommend this business.”

Nicole R.

“Wonderful people. They go out of their way to make sure people are taken care of.”

Sarah S.

“Nate, Charlene & Simone are great people to help in a stressful situation! They have been open and caring and have provided some wonderful caregivers for a lovely lady in my church. I was instrumental in coordinating care for the family and have nothing but good things to say about the staff at Always Best Care. Simone so kindly visited my friend in hospice when she could no longer be cared for at home. She even took her flowers and has remained in contact with the family to support them as they are going through this difficult journey. I highly recommend Always Best Care.”


“Great service and great people. Always warm and welcoming.”

Cristina S.

“Ives and Alicia definitely true 5 stars !! My name is Daniel Murray and I have been with Always Best Care for 2 years and I am very satisfied with the care I have received from them through the years. Everyone has been very polite and professional. My son and I are very blessed to have PROFESSIONAL CARE like this!”

Dan M.

“Always Best Care of the Midlands has a dedicated staff that is always trying to provide the best care and information to all of their clients... thanks very much!”

Josephine C.

“Charlene & Nate work very hard to bring you the BEST healthcare service they can provide!!”

Tanya M.

“Congratulations to Always Best Care Midlands for qualifying for the HCSB A+ RATING. This proves that your agency has been verified by a 3rd party unbiased bureau to uphold the most stringent standards in the industry!! Great JOB!”

Mike D.

“Very reliable and excellent service!”

carla L.

“Nate Rhodes takes the time to get to know each potential client and goes out of his way to make the best care plan at reasonable prices. He works hard to find the right fit for each individual.”

Caitlyn W.

“Nate Rhodes and his staff go out of their way to ensure that their clients get the utmost best care for complete customer satisfaction.”

Cassy B.
 In-Home Care Columbia, SC

How does In-home Senior Care in Columbia, SC work?

Home is where the heart is. While that saying can sound a tad cliche, it's especially true for many seniors living in America. When given a choice, older adults most often prefer to grow older at home. An AARP study found that three out of four adults over the age of 50 want to stay in their homes and communities as they age. When you begin to think about why, it makes sense. Home offers a sense of security, comfort, and familiarity.

The truth is, as we age, we begin to rely on others for help. When a family is too busy or lives too far away to fulfill this role, in-home senior care is often the best solution. Home care services allow seniors to enjoy personal independence while also receiving trustworthy assistance from a trained caregiver.

At Always Best Care, we offer a comprehensive range of home care services to help seniors stay healthy while they get the help they need to remain independent. As your senior loved one ages, giving them the gift of senior care is one of the best ways to show your love, even if you live far away.

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 Senior Care Columbia, SC

Aging in Place: The Preferred Choice for Most Seniors

While it's true that some seniors have complicated medical needs that prevent them from staying at home, aging in place is often the best arrangement for seniors and their families. With a trusted caregiver, seniors have the opportunity to live with a sense of dignity and do so as they see fit.

In-home care makes it possible for millions of seniors to age in place every year. Rather than moving to a unfamiliar assisted living community, seniors have the chance to stay at home where they feel the happiest and most comfortable.

Here are just a few of the reasons why older men and women prefer to age at home:


How much does a senior's home truly mean to them? A study published by the American Society on Aging found that more than half of seniors say their home's emotional value means more than how much their home is worth in monetary value. It stands to reason, that a senior's home is where they want to grow old. With the help of elderly care in Columbia, SC, seniors don't have to age in a sterilized care facility. Instead, they can age gracefully in the place they want to be most: their home. In contrast, seniors who move to a long-term care facility must adapt to new environments, new people, and new systems that the facility implements. At this stage in life, this kind of drastic change can be more harmful than helpful.

Healthy Living
Healthy Living

Institutional care facilities like nursing homes often put large groups of people together to live in one location. On any given day, dozens of staff members and caregivers run in and out of these facilities. Being around so many new people in a relatively small living environment can be dangerous for a seniors' health and wellbeing. When you consider that thousands of seniors passed away in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, opting for in-home care is often a safer, healthier choice for seniors. Aging in place has been shown to improve seniors' quality of life, which helps boost physical health and also helps insulate them from viral and bacterial risks found in elderly living facilities.


For many seniors, the ability to live independently with assistance from a caregiver is a priceless option. With in-home care, seniors experience a higher level of independence and freedom - much more so than in other settings like an assisted living community. When a senior has the chance to age in place, they get to live life on their own terms, inside the house that they helped make into a home. More independence means more control over their personal lives, too, which leads to increased levels of fulfillment, happiness, and personal gratification. Over time, these positive feelings can manifest into a healthier, longer life.

Cost and Convenience
Cost and Convenience

More independence, a healthier life, and increased comfort are only a few benefits of aging in place. You have to take into consideration the role of cost and convenience. Simply put, it's usually easier to help seniors age in place than it is to move them into an institutional care facility. In-home care services from Always Best Care, for instance, can be less expensive than long-term solutions, which can cost upwards of six figures per year. To make matters worse, many residential care facilities are reluctant to accept long-term care insurance and other types of payment assistance.

With Always Best Care's home care services, seniors and their families have a greater level of control over their care plans. In-home care in Columbia, SC gives seniors the chance to form a bond with a trusted caregiver and also receive unmatched care that is catered to their needs. In long-term care facilities, seniors and their loved ones have much less control over their care plan and have less of a say in who provides their care.

Empowers Seniors

Affordable Care Plans

In-home care is a valuable resource that empowers seniors to age in place on their own terms. However, a big concern for many families and their loved ones is how much in-home care costs. If you're worried that in-home care is too expensive, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that it is one of the most affordable senior care arrangements available.

Typically, hiring an Always Best Care in-home caregiver for a few hours a week is more affordable than sending your loved one to a long-term care facility. This is true even for seniors with more complex care needs.

At Always Best Care, we will work closely with you and your family to develop a Care Plan that not only meets your care needs, but your budget requirements, too. Once we discover the level of care that you or your senior need, we develop an in-home care plan that you can afford.

In addition to our flexible care options, families should also consider the following resources to help offset potential home care costs:

Veteran's Benefits
Veteran's Benefits

Aid and Attendance benefits through military service can cover a portion of the costs associated with in-home care for veterans and their spouses.

Long-Term Care Insurance
Long-Term Care Insurance

Many senior care services like in-home care are included in long-term care insurance options. Research different long-term care solutions to find a plan that provides coverage for senior care.

Private Insurance
Private Insurance

Home care can be included as part of a senior's private insurance plan. Read over your loved one's insurance policy carefully or speak with their insurance provider to determine if in-home care is covered.

Life Insurance
Life Insurance

Depending on the life insurance plan, you may be able to apply your policy toward long-term care. You may be able to use long-term-care coverage to help pay for in-home elderly care.

Respite Care Columbia, SC

During your Care Plan consultation with Always Best Care, your Care Coordinator will speak with you about in-home care costs and what options there may be to help meet your budget needs.

Compassionate Care. Trusted Caregivers

When you or your senior loved one needs assistance managing daily tasks at home, finding a qualified caregiver can be challenging. It takes a special kind of person to provide reliable care for your senior loved one. However, a caregiver's role involves more than meal preparation and medication reminders. Many seniors rely on their caregivers for companionship, too.

Our companion care services give seniors the chance to socialize in a safe environment and engage in activities at home. These important efforts boost morale and provide much-needed relief from repetitive daily routines. A one-on-one, engaging conversation can sharpen seniors' minds and give them something in which to be excited.

At Always Best Care, we only hire care providers that we would trust to care for our own loved ones. Our senior caregivers in Columbia,SC understand how important it is to listen and communicate with their seniors. A seemingly small interaction, like a short hug goodbye, can make a major difference in a senior's day. Instead of battling against feelings of isolation, seniors begin to look forward to seeing their caregiver each week.

Understanding the nuances of senior care is just one of the reasons why our care providers are so great at their job.

Unlike some senior care companies, our caregivers must undergo extensive training before they work for Always Best Care. In addition, our caregivers receive ongoing training throughout the year. This training ensures that their standard of care matches up to the high standards we've come to expect. During this training, they will brush up on their communication skills, safety awareness, and symptom spotting. That way, your loved one receives the highest level of non-medical home care from day one.

 Caregivers Columbia, SC

Taking the First Step with Always Best Care

The first step in getting quality in-home care starts with a personal consultation with an experienced Care Coordinator. This initial consultation is crucial for our team to learn more about you or your elderly loved one to discover the level of care required. Topics of this consultation typically include:

An assessment of your senior loved one


An in-depth discussion of the needs of your senior loved one to remain in their own home


Reviewing a detailed Care Plan that will meet your senior loved one's needs


Our caregivers are trained to spot changes that clients exhibit, like mental and physical decline. As your trusted senior care company, we will constantly assess and update your Care Plan to meet any new emotional, intellectual, physical, and emotional needs.

If you have never considered in-home care before, we understand that you and your family may have concerns about your Care Plan and its Care Coordinator. To help give you peace of mind, know that every team member and caregiver must undergo comprehensive training before being assigned to a Care Plan.

When you're ready, we encourage you to contact your local Always Best Care representative to set up a Care Consultation. Our Care Coordinators would be happy to meet with you in person to get to know you better, discuss your needs, and help put together a personalized Care Plan specific to your needs.

Latest News in Columbia, SC

‘It’s a joy to come to work’: 85-year-old woman starts hot dog stand in Prosperity

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - It’s never too late to start something new.That’s the message from 85-year-old Joann Dehardt, of Prosperity, who’s serving up food hot off the grill at her new hot dog stand.However, grilling hot dogs and sizzling fries is just a small part of what Dehardt, or Boss Lady Jojo, does daily at J’s Hot Diggity Dogs.“I love people and I love helping people and that’s what it’s all about,” said Dehardt.Back in 1980, Joann and her husband opened Frande...

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - It’s never too late to start something new.

That’s the message from 85-year-old Joann Dehardt, of Prosperity, who’s serving up food hot off the grill at her new hot dog stand.

However, grilling hot dogs and sizzling fries is just a small part of what Dehardt, or Boss Lady Jojo, does daily at J’s Hot Diggity Dogs.

“I love people and I love helping people and that’s what it’s all about,” said Dehardt.

Back in 1980, Joann and her husband opened Frandeena’s, one of the few restaurants serving up hot food in Prosperity.

“After my husband passed away in 2010, I volunteered at a thrift store in Chapin, Good Works,” said Dehardt. “I said ‘You know the old restaurant is still standing, why don’t I do that?’ and one of the workers said ‘Joann that’s a fine thing for you to do.’”

Inspired by the thrift store, Joann got to work. She turned the old Frandeena’s into Heart and Hands Thrift Shoppe, which serves people all throughout the community off Macedonia Church Rd.

People can get furniture, kitchenware, antiques, clothes, and the list goes on. If you name it, Joann probably has it.

To keep it all running smoothly, Joann has one volunteer who’s been with her from the very start, Jan Acquisto. Their friendship all began at that thrift store in Chapin.

“Joann happened to be in there and she came walking up and she said well I need help and I’m opening a thrift store on Macedonia Church Rd. in Prosperity, and I said I live on Macedonia Church Rd. in Prosperity,” said Acquisto.

After Jan Acquisto lost her daughter to colon cancer, Joann Dehardt was by her side every step of the way.

“If I would bring something in of my daughters to donate, she’d say it’s a good thing Jan, it’s a really good thing. Because you’re passing it on for someone else to enjoy,” said Acquisto.

But Joann still felt like something was missing.

“Nobody had anything to eat around here, so I said ya know why don’t we do a similar small hot dog stand?”

That is how J’s Hot Diggity Dogs was born.

The small hot dog stand now sits right in front of Heart and Hands Thrift Shoppe.

If you’re wondering what you should get when you stop by, Boss Lady Jojo has a suggestion.

“Get a hot dog all the way. With chili, mustard, onion, everything.”

Running a thrift shop and a hot dog stand, you’d think Joann Dehardt would have her hands full, but it turns out the only thing full is her heart.

“I just love people, and I love doing what I’m doing. It’s a joy to come to work.”

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Final scores from this week’s Midlands and SC high school football games

Final scores from this week’s high school football action locally and across South Carolina.Friday Airport 35, Fox Creek 18Batesburg-Leesville 28, Newberry 26CA Joh...

Final scores from this week’s high school football action locally and across South Carolina.


Airport 35, Fox Creek 18

Batesburg-Leesville 28, Newberry 26

CA Johnson 48, Swansea 27

Camden 52, AC Flora 27

Cardinal Newman 53, Heathwood Hall 14

Chapin 38, Brookland-Cayce 31

Crestwood 37, North Central 13

Dutch Fork 41, North Augusta 12

Fairfield Central 27, Keenan 8

Faith Christian 52, Newberry Academy 6

Fort Mill 25, Lugoff-Elgin 15

Gilbert 14, Lexington 3

Goose Creek 31, Blythewood 28

Hammond 25, Wilson Hall 7

Holly Hill 37, Richard Winn 22

Irmo 35, Hartsville 21

Mid-Carolina 29, Columbia 6

Midland Valley 37, Westwood 14

Porter-Gaud 42, Ben Lippen 9

Providence Athletic Club 56, Tri-Cities Christian (Tenn.) 0

Richland Northeast 49, Spring Valley 27

Ridge View 40, Dreher 14

River Bluff 44, Lower Richland 6

White Knoll 67, South Aiken 6

Andrew Jackson Academy 22, WW King 6


St. John’s (DC) 42, Gray Collegiate 28

Abbeville 21, Crescent 6

Academic Magnet 62, Palmetto Christian Academy 23

Andrew Jackson 21, Lakewood 0

Ashley Ridge 63, St. James 34

Barnwell 26, Aiken 12

Beaufort 16, May River 13

Beaufort Academy 28, Orangeburg Prep 21

Belton-Honea Path 52, Emerald 14

Blacksburg 42, Chesterfield 6

Blackville-Hilda 34, Denmark-Olar 13

Bluffton 56, Battery Creek 21

Boiling Springs 31, Greer 14

Broome 58, Berea 6

Calhoun Academy 7, Dillon Christian 6

Calhoun County 62, Williston-Elko 0

Carolina Forest 38, Stratford 21

Carolina High and Academy 37, Southside 28

Chapman 22, Clinton 21

Chester 30, Catawba Ridge 17

Christ Church Episcopal 51, Calhoun Falls 0

Clarendon Hall Academy 46, King’s Academy 14

Clover 35, Dorman 13

Colleton Prep 3, Memorial Day, Ga. 0

Cross 54, Lake Marion 8

D.W. Daniel 54, Pickens 7

Dillon 48, Socastee 25

East Clarendon 21, Hannah-Pamplico 14

Eastside 21, Travelers Rest 15

Edisto 36, Branchville 32

First Baptist 42, Hilton Head Prep 31

Fort Dorchester 52, Berkeley 0

Green Sea Floyds 25, Carvers Bay 12

Greenville 21, J.L. Mann 19

Hampton County 26, Hilton Head Island 3

Hickory Home, N.C. 27, Great Falls 20

Hillcrest 52, Powdersville 14

Hilton Head Christian Academy 31, Northwood Academy 14

Hunter-Kinard-Tyler 56, Wagener-Salley 22

Indian Land 13, Trinity Christian, N.C. 12

James F. Byrnes 28, Wren 7

James Island 28, Cane Bay 7

Jefferson Davis Academy 40, Conway Christian School 6

Kingstree 54, Hemingway 0

Lake City 33, Georgetown 3

Lake View 22, Central 6

Lamar 29, McBee 10

Latta 54, Johnsonville 23

Lewisville 71, Ridge Spring-Monetta 0

Loris 33, Conway 14

Lucy G. Beckham 57, R.B. Stall 0

Marion 40, Cheraw 3

Marlboro County 38, Ridgeland-Hardeeville 24

Northwestern 49, Gaffney 24

Patrick Henry Academy 33, Greenwood Christian 20

Pendleton 53, Fountain Inn 0

Philip Simmons 55, Aynor 30

Pinewood Prep 48, John Paul II 28

Red Springs, N.C. 20, Mullins 8

Silver Bluff 49, Orangeburg-Wilkinson 0

South Florence 22, South Pointe 19

Spartanburg 49, Riverside 6

St. Joseph 61, Ware Shoals 12

Strom Thurmond 33, Evans, Ga. 7

Summerville 47, Sumter 10

T.L. Hanna 38, Greenwood 7

Thomas Heyward Academy 34, Dorchester Academy 8

Timberland 28, Hanahan 24

Union County 20, Laurens 17

Waccamaw 23, Andrews 18

Wade Hampton (G) 33, Blue Ridge 32

Walhalla 20, Palmetto 14, OT

Westside 56, Mauldin 10

Williamsburg Academy 34, Pee Dee Academy 28

Wilson 14, Darlington 6

Woodland 20, Bishop England 3

Woodmont 28, Easley 14

Woodruff 40, Chesnee 15

York Comprehensive 51, Rock Hill 48

This story was originally published September 15, 2023, 7:00 PM.

Columbia-area district could have teachers instruct over SC limit amid staffing issues

COLUMBIA — Lexington-Richland School District Five is asking the S.C. Department of Education to waive a state regulation limiting how long its teachers are allowed to instruct each week.The request is part of the Irmo- and Chapin-area district’s efforts to mitigate the teacher staffing issues which have plagued school districts ...

COLUMBIA — Lexington-Richland School District Five is asking the S.C. Department of Education to waive a state regulation limiting how long its teachers are allowed to instruct each week.

The request is part of the Irmo- and Chapin-area district’s efforts to mitigate the teacher staffing issues which have plagued school districts around Columbia and much of South Carolina in recent years, according to Superintendent Akil Ross.

“I just want another tool in the toolbox,” he said.

Columbia Education

Under regulations set by the State Board of Education, teachers can’t be assigned classes requiring more than four preparations per day or instruct more than 1,500 minutes, or 25 hours, per week.

But administrators in Lexington-Richland Five said it’s necessary for teachers at Dutch Fork High School, Dutch Fork Middle School and Irmo High School to be allowed to go over that limit in order to account for vacancies.

Such work would be optional, and teachers who work over the limit would be paid both for the extra class and the additional planning it requires, Chief Human Resources Officer Tamara Turner told the district’s school board Sept. 11, which soon after voted unanimously to proceed with the request for a waiver.

“It is something that we engage in, a process to ensure that it’s something the teachers are willing to assist with, it is a conversation that we have,” Turner said, adding that some of the vacancies the waiver is meant to address are temporary, such as medical leaves.

Ross said in a Sept. 13 interview that he didn’t know exactly how many teachers would be affected by waiving the regulation at the three schools.

His district described its request as necessary for meeting the goals laid out in its strategic plan, a state-mandated document in which S.C. districts establish their priorities every five years, specifically the goal that its schools will “provide challenging curricula and implement researched-based instructional practices to ensure the academic development and college or career readiness of all students.”

If granted, the waiver would last through the 2026-27 school year, which is when the district’s current strategic plan will end, Vann Holden, director of planning and accountability, told the board.

It’s the first time the 17,500-student district has applied for a waiver since 2016, according to a list of approved requests on the S.C. Department of Education’s website last updated June 21. Waiver applications in S.C. aren’t uncommon — eight other districts have already requested and been granted exemptions for various state regulations in 2023, including one to the Aiken and Greenwood 50 school district waiving the 1,500 minute rule.

When a district submits its waiver request online, department staff reviews the request to ensure everyone understands the request and “to identify any unintended consequences that may arise if it is granted, and to determine if additional assurances may be needed in order to proceed,” according to Laura Bayne, department spokeswoman.

The State Board of Education ultimately decides whether to grant the requested waiver.

Columbia Education

Teacher staffing issues in Lexington-Richland Five are significantly less acute than at some other districts around Columbia. About 98.3 percent of its teacher positions are filled, Ross said Sept. 13, and its online hiring portal listed about 25 teaching positions as of Sept. 14.

That’s a far cry from the neighboring Richland One district, which serves just under 1.3 times more students than Lexington-Richland Five but whose hiring portal lists over 160 teaching positions.

Columbia City Council considers raising their own salaries. Here’s by how much

Columbia City Council members may soon give themselves a raise.Council will vote Tuesday on an ordinance to raise council members’ salaries to $20,350 per year from $13,350, a more than 50% in...

Columbia City Council members may soon give themselves a raise.

Council will vote Tuesday on an ordinance to raise council members’ salaries to $20,350 per year from $13,350, a more than 50% increase.

Outgoing Councilman Howard Duvall said the raise has been 17 years in the making — Columbia council members have been making $13,350 per year since at least 2006, according to the South Carolina Municipal Association.

“It won’t affect me because I’ll be gone,” Duvall said with a laugh.

Duvall, who is not running to keep his seat, will leave the council at the end of this year when his term expires. But he said he wanted to get a raise passed to ensure that running for City Council isn’t a financial sacrifice for anyone and so that candidates can come from a diverse range of economic backgrounds.

Duvall lobbied his fellow council members to support raising the council salaries before the last City Council election, he said, but couldn’t get enough support. He believes this time, he has at least the four votes he would need.

He believes other council members are more willing to support the raise in light of Richland County Council voting in November to raise their own salaries to $17,777, up from $14,500.

The proposal would not change the mayor’s salary, which would remain at $75,000 per year. The raise, if approved, would take effect Jan. 1, 2024.

Currently, Columbia council members make less than elected officials in other large South Carolina municipalities.

Rock Hill council members make $17,844 per year. Greenville council members make $15,000 per year, raised in 2017 from $11,772, according to Municipal Association data.

If Columbia’s council passes the new salary, Columbia would have among the highest-paid city council members in the state, according to that data.

Of the municipalities larger than 20,000 people that responded to the Municipal Association’s 2022 and 2023 compensation surveys, just North Charleston reported council salaries above $20,000, at $20,657. The city of Charleston did not respond to the municipal association survey in 2023 but recently approved a raise for council members as well, bringing Charleston council salaries up to $20,131, according to city ordinance.

Columbia City Council is expected to take the first of two required votes on the salary ordinance during a regular council meeting Tuesday.

SC college graduate brain drain is real, data confirms

COLUMBIA — Less than two-thirds of South Carolina college graduates are taking jobs with companies in the Palmetto State within a year of graduation.While many in the state have complained about a so-called brain drain of college-educated young people treating their diplomas as a ticket out of South Carolina, a new state study confirms and measures it over the last decade.About 63 percent of graduates take a job in state after receiving...

COLUMBIA — Less than two-thirds of South Carolina college graduates are taking jobs with companies in the Palmetto State within a year of graduation.

While many in the state have complained about a so-called brain drain of college-educated young people treating their diplomas as a ticket out of South Carolina, a new state study confirms and measures it over the last decade.

About 63 percent of graduates take a job in state after receiving their diploma, according to the study by S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. And for South Carolina’s largest, four-year universities, the results were lower.

Economists followed three years’ worth of college graduates — from 2010, 2015 and 2020 — to see how many stayed in South Carolina to work and how many left to pursue a job or further their education elsewhere. The study backs up concerns long voiced by area leaders in Columbia and other college towns good at importing young minds each year but then struggling to convince them to stay.

The trend was most pronounced at South Carolina’s research universities, which over the study’s 10-year period, saw fewer and fewer graduates join the state’s workforce.

The employment opportunities for graduates exist, Columbia Mayor Daniel Rickenmann said, but students aren’t informed about them while in school. Graduates leave because they aren’t invested in the communities their campuses border, he said.

“Quality of life is a big piece of what graduates are looking for,” Rickenmann said. “We need to make sure that they understand from a cultural, a social and a living situation that we’re up to par.”

The study, which relied on Unemployment Insurance Wage Records, did not count federal government or military workers. Contractors and self-employed individuals also were not part of the count.

Researchers also adjusted for students who went on to further their education rather than joining the workforce after graduation.

In all, the department collected data on 99,392 students. Here is the breakdown:

When it came to putting students to work at South Carolina companies, the technical schools saw the greatest success, with roughly 82 percent of each group of measured graduates showing up in S.C. wage reports. The 16 schools together accounted for roughly 18,500 workers in the Palmetto State.

The three research universities, by comparison, had just shy of 17,900 students join the payrolls of South Carolina companies, despite having far more graduates. The percentage of students measured who showed up in state wage reports within a year of graduation went from 56.5 percent for the class of 2010 to 51 percent five years later and 50 percent a decade after.

Students with degrees in the high-demand fields of science, technology, engineering and math were the least likely to take or stay long-term at jobs in South Carolina after graduation.

Those in the health fields were among the most likely to stick around.

USC still makes a net gain to the state workforce by admitting more than 43 percent of its student population from outside of South Carolina, USC Provost Donna Arnett said.

USC President Michael Amiridis, in an op-ed, laid out one way the state’s largest college system has sought to grow the South Carolina workforce — through internships.

The school began using state funds to award up to $3,000 to students who take in-state internships in high-demand industries. Over the summer, USC gave out $1 million to 335 students from its Columbia campus for internships in manufacturing, health, energy and financial services. They were placed with employers such as Boeing, Dominion and BMW.

Columbia has started initiatives to engrain students in the city and educate them on local employment. Rickenmann formed a coalition of students from Columbia institutions in February 2022 to create ways for students to get involved with the larger city and explore the job market.

Rickenmann proposed that developing the city’s downtown further.

“They want to be able to live in a building that has nice amenities, but gives them the ability to walk to work, walk to entertainment, walk to services,” Rickenmann said about the young professionals. “They’re interested in being, much like they are in college, able to scoot around.”

Another key research finding was retention of those graduates who became South Carolina workers dropped off again over the first four years that employees spent on the job, with less than 50 percent making it to the five-year mark. But those who stayed at least five years were more likely to stay longer, showing up in South Carolina wage reports a decade after graduation.

This extended data is not yet available for the 2020 graduates.

Finally, those students who came to South Carolina schools from other states were the least likely to remain here after graduation. The portion of out-of-state graduates who went to work for South Carolina companies was less than half in 2010 and dropped to just above a quarter in 2015 and 2020.

In all, South Carolina was able to add 10,766 students from other states to its employment rolls in the years measured. But long-term retention would drop again within five years of graduation — by 35 percent for the class of 2010 and 50 percent for the class of 2015.

City and higher education leaders hope the retention rates improve as South Carolina’s industries continue to develop. Scout Motor’s new electric-vehicle assembly plant will bring 4,000 jobs to the Columbia-area when its first cars drive off the line in 2026. The factory will also draw economic activity to the area, as families move in and workforce training bolstered.

“When you get these better job opportunities and and you get higher paying jobs,” Arnett said, “it just changes the nature of the community.”


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