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More South Carolina Workers are Failing Drug Tests, Leading to an Even Greater Shortage in the Work Force

The number of working Americans who are failing drug tests in this country continues to rise, and according to Quest Diagnostics, South Carolina is currently experiencing one of the highest rates in the country. More than one out of every 18 workers who took drug tests in the state last year did not pass, per Quest. South Carolina saw a 5.6 percent drug test failure rate last year, which was ultimately the sixth-highest rate in the country. The national average was 4.2 percent.

This was actually an improvement for South Carolina, as the state had seen its highest rate thus far last year, yet they still – like the rest of the country – are climbing ever higher in a trend that is leaning toward more workers popping positive on their drug tests. The number of people who have been showing as positive on drug tests taken in the U.S. have increased the country's level to the highest point it has been at in 12 years.

According to Dan Walker, a research analyst at the state Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, there exist a few factors that make South Carolina's numbers rather difficult to understand. For one thing, while one might expect the legalization of marijuana to play a factor, but marijuana is not legal in South Carolina.

South Carolina doesn't even border a state where marijuana is legal in either a recreational or medicinal form. South Carolina and North Carolina are the only two states that don't. And in a state where qualified workers are already in short supply, South Carolina can't afford to lose many more to a positive drug test result.

Make no mistake, there have been increases in marijuana and opiate usage, but for the most part, according to Walker, the increases in both have not been extreme. If anything, federal surveys are actually showing that the rates of marijuana, cocaine, and heroin that are being used in South Carolina are either at or lower than the national average.

The rate of unemployment in South Carolina was at four percent this past August, which was close to the lowest point it has been at since 2001. And the state's rate of joblessness is even lower. However, it has become more of a challenge for the state to fill the openings it does have. This is because of how many people in the state have jobs and don’t wish to leave them, along with those who are testing positive on drug tests.

Surveys conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond show that employers in both South and North Carolina are pessimistic when it comes to being able to find the right candidates for the job. Employers are therefore feeling the burn more than usual when a competitor takes a potential employee away, especially if it is to go work for a company that does not require a drug screening before offering a candidate a job.