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“M” is for Migrant Labor

South Carolina from A to Z logo

  “M” is for Migrant Labor. Migrant labor in South Carolina involves farm work done by individuals whose principal employment is seasonal agriculture and who travel and live in temporary housing. South Carolina lies on the easternmost of three traditional streams of migrant farmworkers who harvest much of the nation’s crops each year. As of the twenty-first century, from early summer through fall, about fourteen thousand migrant workers could be found in all parts of South Carolina but in greatest concentrations in the lowcountry and in Clarendon and Sumter counties [vegetables], the Ridge area and Spartanburg County [peaches] and the Pee Dee [tobacco]. Between 1980 and 2000, the traditional mix of African American and white migrant labor in the eastern stream and in South Carolina was replaced by a preponderance of Latinos, mostly Mexicans.

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.