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Florence is now majority-minority

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FLORENCE, S.C. – Florence is now solidly a majority-minority city.

The South Carolina Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office recently released the 2020 Census information for the 46 counties and 271 cities or towns in the Palmetto State.

That data shows that the populations of African Americans grew by 9.81% from 17,038 in 2010 to 18,710 in 2020. Combined with the those who are listed as other race – this should include Asians and Native Americans – at 1,480 people and people describing themselves as multiracial (1,555), this equals 54.5% of Florence’s 39,899 people. In 2010, these same groups equaled 49.98% of the city’s population.

In the census, Hispanics are not counted as a separate race. They are included in all of the races and later asked to identify themselves as Hispanic.

Four of the six counties in the Pee Dee region show a similar pattern of getting more diverse racially.

In Florence County, the number of African Americans grew by 1.20% while the percentage of whites decreased by 7.1%. The county, however, is still just under 51% white compared with just under 55% in 2010.

In Marion, Dillon and Marlboro counties, the overall population decreased but the overall percentage of African Americans increased because the rate of change in the number of African Americans was lower than the rate of change for whites. For example, in Darlington County, the population decreased by 8.41% but the percentage of African Americans grew because the rate of population loss of African Americans was 10.67% compared to 11.11% for whites.

Darlington and Williamsburg counties are the outliers.

In Williamsburg, the percentage of population loss for African Americans was 13.12% compared with 6.31% for whites.

The growth in minorities is also fueled by the growth in the number of people describing themselves as multiracial. All but one of the six Pee Dee counties and Florence had a doubling of those describing themselves as multiracial. The number of multiracial people in Williamsburg County grew by over 98%.

This accounts for a slight decrease in the percentage of African Americans in Darlington County, from over 41% to just over 40%.

The white population of the city decreased by 2.06% from 18,535 people in 2010 to 18,154 people in 2020. In percentage terms, the number of whites in Florence has decreased by 3% from just over 50% to over 47%.

The growth of minority populations in the Pee Dee is the opposite of the growth in South Carolina. Overall, the number of whites grew by just under 6% and the number of African Americans decreased by 0.13%.

The data provided also describes the size of the counties and municipalities in the state.

Largest and smallest counties

The largest county in the state is Greenville (525,534) followed by Richland (416,147), Charleston (408,235), Horry (351,029) and Spartanburg (327,997).

The smallest county is Allendale (8,039) followed by McCormick (9,526), Bamberg (13,311), Calhoun (14,119) and Lee (16,531) counties.

If Allendale was a city or a town, it would be the 47th largest municipality in the state. McCormick would be the 42nd largest.

Florence County (137,059) is the largest county in the Pee Dee and ranked 13th in the state. In 2010, Florence County was the 12th largest county in the state.

Darlington County is the 23rd largest county in the state followed by Williamsburg (30), Marion (31), Dillon (33) and Marlboro (35).

Largest and smallest municipalities

Florence remains the 10th largest city or town in the state.

The nine municipalities ahead of it are Charleston (150,227), Columbia (136,632), North Charleston (114,852), Mount Pleasant (90,801), Rock Hill (74,372), Greenville (70,720), Summerville (50,915), Goose Creek (45,946) and Sumter (43,463). Three of the top four and six of the top eight largest cities and towns are in the Charleston area.

The smallest towns are Cope (37), Jenkinsville (40), Peak (51), Smyrna (55) and Govan (56). Marlboro County’s Tatum (75) is the ninth-smallest town in the state.

Fastest growing and most people losing municipalities

The fastest growing cities and towns in the state are Pelzer (1,410.11%), Reidville (171.88%), Hardeeville (153.15%), Edisto Beach (149.52%) and Blythewood (134.61%). Two other towns, Fort Mill and Bluffton, also more than doubled in size from 2010 to 2020.

Only three of the 32 municipalities included in the Pee Dee grew from 2010 to 2020.

The data shows that Hemingway grew by 9.8%, Florence grew by 7.67% and Tatum, a town located between Bennettsville and McColl on U.S. 15 in Marlboro County, grew by 1.33%.

In specific, Hemingway grew by 45 people from 459 to 504 to be the 57th-fastest-growing city in the state, Florence grew by 2,843 people from 37,056 to 39,899 to be the 67th-fastest-growing and Tatum grew by one person from 75 people to 76 people to become the 109th fastest growing.

The remaining 29 cities and towns lost population including every municipality in Darlington, Dillon, and Marion counties.

The largest declines in the Pee Dee were in Nichols, Sellers and Scranton.

In specific, the population in hurricane-hit and flood-ravaged Nichols went from 368 to 234, a decline of 36.41%. In Sellers, the population from from 219 to 147, a decline of 32.88%. And in Scranton, the population dropped from 932 to 648, a decline of 30.47%.

Nichols and Sellers are the fourth- and fifth-fastest-population-losing municipalities in the state behind Orangeburg County’s Cope (down 51.95%), Edgefield (51.12%) and Atlantic Beach (41.62%).

The data from the Census Bureau also provides the populations of each of the 46 counties in the state along with the populations of all 271 municipalities.

Florence County

The census data shows that the county population stayed almost the same, growing by 0.13%, according to the census numbers, or losing 0.07%, according to estimates of the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office.

Florence remains the largest city or town in the Pee Dee, by far, at 38,899 people. One could add the populations of the next four largest cities in the Pee Dee and not reach the population of Florence. Or to put it another way: Florence’s population is bigger than the populations of Marion, Williamsburg, Dillon and Marlboro counties.

Lake City is next largest city in the county at 5,903 people (down 11.57% from 2010) followed by Timmonsville at 2,099 people (down 9.53%), Johnsonville at 1,378 people (down 6.89%), Pamplico at 1,061 people (down 13.46%), Quinby at 915 people (down 1.82%), Coward at 748 people (down 0.53%) and Scranton.

The smallest town in the county is Olanta at 550 people (down 2.31%).

Darlington County

The census data shows that the county’s population decreased by 8.41% from 68,681 in 2010 to 62,905 in 2020.

Hartsville remains the largest city in Darlington County at 7,446 people. However, its population decreased by 4.1% from 7,764 in 2010 faster than the rate of Darlington.

Darlington’s population decreased by 2.23% from 6,289 people in 2010 to 6,149 people in 2020.

Lamar’s population decreased by 12.84% from 989 to 862 and Society Hill’s population decreased from 563 to 438, a decline of 22.2%.

Marion County

Marion County’s population decreased by 11.32% from 33,062 in 2010 to 29,183 in 2020.

Marion remains the largest city in the county at 6,448 people. This is a decrease of almost 7.5% from 6,939 in 2010. The population in Mullins decreased from 4,663 people to 4,026 people, a decrease of 13.82%.

Williamsburg County

Williamsburg County’s population decreased by 9.87% from 34,423 people in 2010 to 31,026 people in 2020.

Each municipality in the county other than Hemingway lost population.

Dillon County

Dillon County’s population decreased by 11.76% from 32,062 people in 2010 to 28,292 people in 2020.

Each municipality in the county lost population.

There is very little variation in the cities and towns in Dillon County. Collectively, the three cities are separated by six places in a list of all 271 municipalities in the state.


All the municipalities other than Tatum in Marlboro County lost population. As did Clarendon County’s Turbeville.

Marlboro County’s population decreased from 28,933 people in 2010 to 26,667 people in 2020.

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