The state is steadily regaining its overall economic health and will continue a slow, but steady recovery next year. That was good news for the state’s business and policy leaders who gathered to hear the projections of Doug Woodward and Joey Von Nessen of the Darla Moore School of Business at USC.
The two highlighted some bright spots for the state. A few are:
-Charleston, the home of the largest increase in population with four-year degrees of anywhere in the country, is creating what Woodward calls a “stable creative class” that draws and keeps higher-qualified workers, especially in information technology. Woodward calls this region the “hottest” for economic growth in the state.
-Aiken’s landing of Bridgestone tire manufacturer will offset a depletion of jobs caused by Savannah River Site’s gear-down of stimulus funded projects. That money will run out as Bridgestone gets online.
-Myrtle Beach enjoyed a good year according to employment numbers, despite the problems with second-home sales and construction. “But something’s generating jobs down there, ” says Woodward,”because they did have a strong jobs profile. I think that tourism is still a strong cluster.”
-The Palmetto State’s job training programs work, even though the average overall education attainment of South Carolina is not, says Woodward. Woodward says industries are going to look at Boeing and BMW success in hiring large amounts of skilled workers.
Woodward and Von Nessen’s South Carolina regions at a glance:
• In 2011 total employment growth was positive throughout most of the state (through October 2011, compared with employment activity through October 2010). The biggest gains came in Myrtle Beach (+2.6 percent), Anderson (+2.3 percent), Columbia (+1.6 percent) and Florence (+1.2 percent). Greenville (+0.9 percent), Charleston (+0.9 percent), and Spartanburg (+0.7 percent) had smaller gains and Sumter (-0.3 percent) had virtually no change in total employment over the last year.
• South Carolina total employment in retail trade was slightly down overall (-0.9 percent through October 2011, compared with October 2010), though retail sales activity varied significantly in the metropolitan areas over the first 9 months of 2011 in comparison with the first nine months of 2010. The biggest gains came from Columbia (+7 percent), Spartanburg (+4.4 percent), and Charleston (+3.2 percent). The largest declines occurred in Sumter (-14.8 percent), Greenville (-7.5 percent) and Florence (-6.8 percent). Smaller changes occurred in Anderson (+2.6 percent) and Myrtle Beach (-2.9 percent).
• Several regions of South Carolina experienced increases in residential building permit activity last year. Comparing single family building permits issued through September 2011 with permits issued through September 2010, Sumter (+20.9 percent) and Greenville (+12.3 percent) show the greatest gains, while Anderson (-12 percent) and Columbia (-10.4 percent) show the sharpest drops. Other areas of the state showed more modest changes: Myrtle Beach (+5.6 percent), Florence (-6.5 percent), Charleston (-4.4 percent) and Spartanburg (-2.7 percent).
• In October 2011 unemployment rates had only minor changes in the various metropolitan areas compared with October 2010. The biggest drops were in Greenville (-0.6 percent) and Anderson (-0.5 percent), followed by Spartanburg (-0.2 percent), Charleston (-0.1 percent) and Myrtle Beach (-0.1 percent). Sumter had no change (0.0 percent), while Florence (+0.2 percent) and Columbia (+0.1 percent) had small gains.