December 17, 2014

Economists predict moderate growth in SC next year

USC economists Joey Von Nessen (left) and Doug Woodward reveal their projections to reporters on Wednesday

USC economists Joey Von Nessen (left) and Doug Woodward reveal their projections to reporters on Wednesday

An annual projection of South Carolina’s economy predicts the state will continue to see moderate growth into 2015, but not as strong as is typically expecting while recovering from an exceptionally powerful recession.

University of South Carolina economists Doug Woodward and Joey Von Nessen released their annual economic outlook for the state on Wednesday. The outlook predicts that job creation will grow at 1.9 percent next year, roughly equivalent to the 2 percent reported so far in 2014. However, they agreed South Carolina’s economy was the strongest it had been since the housing market crashed in 2008.

“It’s moderate growth,” Woodward told reporters while revealing the pair’s findings. “It’s not as robust as we’ve seen in previous expansions in the 1990s and earlier in the 2000s. At this stage in the business cycle, we usually see stronger growth across all sectors.”

“South Carolina has hit its stride in 2014. We expect that to continue,” Von Nessen . “If you like 2014, you will like 2015 too.”

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Precision Southeast expanding Marion County manufacturing facility

A Myrtle Beach based firm is growing its operations in eastern Southern Carolina.

Precision Southeast said it will expand its Marion County manufacturing facility, according to a release from the South Carolina Commerce Department. The expansion is expected to create 140 new jobs over five years in the county with the state’s highest unemployment rate.

The company is relocating to the Marion County Spec Building, developed in partnership between the county and Pee Dee Electric Cooperative, in order to meet increased customer demand. The expansion is being facilitated by an increase in machine sizes, service offerings, logistics and the number of industries served. Precision’s Marion County operation currently employs 80 workers.

Marion County Economic Development Commission Director Julie Norman said the county is happy that the manufacturer of injection molded plastic parts will be moving into the new building. “Not only are we very excited that Precision South East chose to expand their operations in Marion County, but we’re thrilled that they are going to be moving into our Spec Building that’s been vacant since it was constructed in 2012.” Norman told South Carolina Radio Network.

Marion County had the highest unemployment rate of any county in South Carolina at 11.3 percent in October, according to the state Department of Employment and Workforce.

Precision Southeast is a manufacturer of injection molded plastic parts, is expanding its operations in eastern South Carolina. Headquartered in Myrtle Beach, the company is investing $16.6 million to expand its Marion County manufacturing operations. This expansion complements recent growth of the company’s existing Horry County operations, which represented $2 million in investment and 60 new jobs hired at that site.

Founded in 1980, Precision Southeast, Inc. produces sporting goods, agricultural/industrial, assembled, automotive, decorated, insert molded and power tool parts. In addition to manufacturing, the firm also offers assembly and packaging services.

Since being established nearly 35 years ago, Precision Southeast, Inc. has grown significantly in eastern South Carolina.

The company says its new jobs created will span the entire spectrum from entry level to very highly skilled technical molding and machining positions, in addition to sales, management, finance, procurement, and information technology and various supporting roles. Hiring for the new positions is set to start in March 2015



New campaign to stress economic benefit of recycling

A statewide campaign is gearing up to promote the economic and environmental benefits of recycling.

The public-private effort known as RecycleMoreSC is a call to action challenging residents, businesses, organizations and local governments to do their part to recycle more.

Richard Chesley, a manager in the DHEC Office of Solid Waste said a study released this past spring by the College of Charleston shows that recycling has a $13 million impact on the state’s economy. Chesley said the campaign’s goal is to reach a 40 percent recycling rate by the year 2020.

“We have two of the state’s largest recycling in Sonoco and Pratt that need material,” he told South Carolina Radio Network. “And this campaign that we’re putting together is aimed at recovering more material.”

Along with DHEC, Pratt Industries and Sonoco Recycling, the campaign includes the South Carolina Beverage Association, Palmetto Pride, and the State Department of Commerce.

Chesley said more than 50,000 direct and indirect jobs are associated with the recycling industry and more and more consumers are beginning to realize that recycling is a good practice not only for the environment, but also for the present and future economic climate of the state.

DHEC promotes recycling as a three-step process that begins and ends with each consumer. Chesley said the first step is for consumers to practice recycling at home and at the workplace. “The second step is this material gets processed into new raw materials and then are made into new products,” he added. “The third step is for each of us to buy, when feasible and practical, recycle content products.”

Chesley said recycling, like any other business enterprise, is market-driven, which means that some materials have significantly more value than others.

“Glass is very heavy and very corrosive on recycling equipment, and also expensive to move. Plastic is light and has very little value, so you have to have a lot of it to have any value at all and to move it. The flip side of that is that aluminum, newspaper, office paper, and cardboard have high value.”

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SC unemployment rate up as labor force grows to record size

Construction workersSouth Carolina’s unemployment rate rose slightly from 6.6 percent to 6.7 percent in October as more people joined the labor force at a faster rate than jobs were available.

The state Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) reported Friday that the estimated number of unemployed rose by almost 2,300 people in October over a month earlier. However, the data also showed that the labor force increased by 9,500 people in that span, which the agency said marked a historic high of nearly 2.2 million in the labor force. The number of estimated working South Carolinians increased by nearly 7,200 in that span.

“In October, South Carolina’s labor force hit an all-time high with an estimated 2.2 million people employed or actively looking for work,” SCDEW Executive Director Cheryl Stanton said in an emailed statement. “As the state’s economy continues to grow, South Carolinians are seeking new employment opportunities. DEW will work with job seekers to match them with the more than 65,000 available jobs.”

According to SCDEW, the manufacturing sector, along with Education and Health Services, saw large bumps (more than 2,000 net jobs each), while other sectors remained stagnant.

Marion County registered the highest unemployment rate at 11.3 percent, while Lexington and Saluda counties tied for the lowest rate at 5.1 percent.

Nationally, the unemployment rate decreased to 5.8 percent in October from 5.9 percent in September.

The rate is still slightly below what it was a year ago, when it was 7 percent in October 2013. SCDEW said the state’s labor force has increased by nearly 18,800 people since that time.

Economists predict state budget will increase next year



State economists predict South Carolina’s government will have nearly $300 million more in revenues to spend next year.

The State newspaper is reporting that the South Carolina Board of Economic Advisors projects the state’s General Fund will have about $7.5 billion for regular budget expenditures for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2015. That’s a roughly four percent increase from this current fiscal year’s estimated $7.2 billion. The state’s general fund budget is made up mostly of sales tax, personal and corporate income tax and is counted separately from federal funds.

Board of Economic Advisors chairman Chad Walldorf said the $283 million difference is largely due to an improving employment picture that means more overall income for South Carolinians. That, in turns, means more taxable wages for the state, he added.

Lawmakers rely on the BEA’s predictions when drafting the next year’s budget. The state legislature will begin work on the budget for the coming year when they return to the Statehouse in January.

As part of a government restructuring bill that passed earlier this year, the Board of Economic Advisors moved from the now-dissolved Budget & Control Board to the new Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office. Of the board’s three members, one is appointed by the governor, one by the Senate Finance Committee chair, and another by the House Ways & Means Committee chairman.