The latest unemployment figures are out and the state’s unemployment rate is the lowest in 18 years. Renee Sexton breaks it down.
The South Carolina Ports Authority announced 197,437 twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) handled last month, a record for the month of May and the second-highest month of container traffic in the Port’s history.
May TEU volume was 8.2 percent higher than the same month last year and nearly surpassed SCPA’s all-time record for container volume, achieved in March 2018 with 199,659 TEUs. Since the Port’s fiscal year began in July, SCPA’s container volume is 2.3 percent higher than the same period last year.
As measured by the total number of boxes handled by the Port, May was also a record month with 113,531 pier containers moved.
“In spite of the Wando Bridge closure during the last half of May, we achieved very strong volumes for the month,” said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO said in a release. “We very much appreciate the flexibility and dedication shown by truck drivers, Charleston Gate, our own employees and the entire maritime community in moving containerized freight under what were adverse conditions for the majority of the month. The leadership of Governor McMaster, Secretary Hall and the South Carolina Department of Transportation, Mayor Haynie, and the Town of Mt. Pleasant was also decisive in making this possible. Our terminals remained fluid throughout the month.”
The Port’s broad-based growth during in May was supported by the further deployment of large container ships to the U.S. East Coast. Increases in loaded export container volumes indicate continued strength in the world economy.
Infrastructure improvements at the Wando Welch Terminal have continued to progress, and the wharf modernization project that began in 2015 will soon be completed. The entire length of the terminal berth will return to full-time operation by the end of July, coinciding with the commissioning of SCPA’s sixth crane of 155 feet of lift height.
South Carolina’s coastal and Upstate regions saw rapid population growth in 2017, which new estimates from the U.S. Census suggest was enough to push the state above 5 million people for the first time.
According to the Post and Courier, the growth moved Charleston past Columbia into the slot as the state’s most populous city last year. The Census estimated the city’s population to be more than 134,000 residents last year, up from 120,000 just seven years earlier.
Meanwhile, the city of Mount Pleasant’s population grew by more than 27 percent during that same time and now has more than 86,000 residents. Columbia’s growth has been much slower, adding just 4,000 residents since 2010. Greenville added a net 10,000 residents from 2010-2017 to put it around 68,000 residents
The population growth is quickest in South Carolina communities near the ocean, the mountains and job centers.
Nationally residents have been moving to the South and West for years. In 2017, Texas is home to half of the top-10 large cities with the highest annual population gains. No city on the East Coast was on that list.
The fastest growing city was Frisco, Texas. Its population grew by 8 percent in single year, putting it at more than 177,000 overall. San Antonio added 66,000 residents in the year as it was the fastest-growing large city nationwide. Charlotte’s population grew by 15,000 residents in the year to more than 859,000 overall.
A South Carolina senator emphasized to his fellow lawmakers that the rank-and-file employees of two companies involved in the failed nuclear expansion at the V.C. Summer plant had nothing to do with the debacle.
Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, R-Edgefield, said at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting last week that those workers of Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric& Gas (SCE&G) are not to blame. “They didn’t do anything wrong. They just showed up every day for work and they worked their tails off to keep the lights on.”
Massey’s comments came amid complaints from many of those employees that they have faced harassment and other backlash from a public frustrated with high electric bills due to massive cost overruns from the abandoned project.
The majority leader said it is important the public know those workers had nothing to do with the debacle. “Those guys and ladies… the people who do most of the work, didn’t do anything wrong. And I think it’s important that we acknowledged that.”
The legislature failed to pass any legislation which deals with the failed nuclear project or reforms state laws in its aftermath. Several bills which would repeal the Base Load Review Act and create a consumer advocate to represent ratepayers in utility issues and set a new power rate for SCE&G next year did pass both chambers. However, the House and Senate will need to come back for a special session to pass a final version of those bills, if they can reach an agreement.
About $37 million per month in extra SCE&G customers’ bills are going to pay down the debt incurred as result of the project.
The job outlook for new college graduates in South Carolina is promising, according to the flagship school’s career center.
University of South Carolina Career Center director Tom Halasz told South Carolina Radio Network the economy is robust. “It’s excellent. We’re looking at continued strong job market here in South Carolina, the Southeast and nationally.”
He said one major in particular is in very strong demand. “Global supply chain logistics type degrees are doing very well,” he said. “We look at a continued strong job market for our graduates.”
He said demand is good for graduates in business, engineering, and computer sciences and that prospects for the arts are also strong.
“We look at sales, is very strong, technology areas all very strong as well. Education here in South Carolina, we know that they’re hiring a lot of teachers,” said Halasz.
The Career Center is set up by the school to educate students on career management skills.
South Carolina’s Senate Finance Committee decided Tuesday to fine-tune a proposal that would establish an agribusiness and rural business tax credit program, rather than vote it to the full Senate.
Committee member State Sen. Paul Campbell, R-Berkeley, said he wants to make sure the credit is done right. “I want to be sure it goes in rural South Carolina,” he said during Tuesday’s meeting. “I want to make sure it goes to the farmers and to the rural business. And if we need to tighten it up we can certainly do that.”
Supporters hope an agribusiness and rural business tax credit program can attract capital to stimulate business development in rural areas, as well as sustain the current industry.
State Sen. John Scott, D-Richland, said the benefits would bring assets to areas which need it. “It is a bill that really has gained my attention as it relates to the rural community and making those rural kind of investments.”
Campbell said rural parts of the state are not feeling an economic recovery. “It looks at an area that’s been neglected for the biggest of this economic growth.”
After his first year in office with mixed results and many West Wing staff changes, but with an economy that still thrives, President Donald Trump’s approval rating has climbed slightly in South Carolina to 46 percent, according to the latest Winthrop University Poll.
Poll Director Scott Huffmon told South Carolina Radio Network the poll showed a minor rise from 42 percent in February. “This is a general population poll. So when we’re looking at these numbers we’re looking at what a representative sample of adult South Carolinians believe.”
Meanwhile, Congress has a 77 percent disapproval rating among South Carolinians.
The Winthrop Poll surveyed 789 South Carolina residents by landline and cell phones between April 7-16. The results which use all respondents have a margin of error of approximately 3.5 percent. Subgroups asking individual Republicans and Democrats have higher margins of error.
The 45th president has a disapproval rating of 47 percent among Palmetto State citizens. Among respondents who self-identify as Republican, Trump has retained strong support with an 80 percent approval rate.
Here’s how South Carolinians describe Trump using these adjectives: [Read more…]
Swedish automaker Volvo says it still needs to fill 700 jobs at its Berkeley County plant.
According to The Post and Courier, about half of the 1,500 workers needed in the first round of hiring have been already hired, but the toughest jobs remaining to fill are in maintenance and on the production floor. But the company said only about four percent of the people who apply have the basic skills, education, and aptitude needed to make it through the screening process.
A worker training program called ReadySC, which is part of the state’s technical college system, is doing most of the of recruiting and training for new Volvo employees. Recent workshops at the facility attracted large crowds of individuals looking for jobs.
Volvo said that they are confident that they will have the employees when the plant opens in June.
When fully operational, the facility will manufacture 150,000 cars a year. About half of the vehicles will go through the Port of Charleston to be exported to markets around the world. The remainder of the vehicles will be sold across the country.
Volvo Cars plans to build a training center near its future Lowcountry plant to teach technicians nationwide.
According to The Post and Courier, individuals will be trained on how to repair the technologies the Swedish automaker uses in its vehicle production. The new center will be called Volvo University and is also seen as a way to attract more workers into automotive technician jobs which can often go unfilled despite a growing field.
The company has not yet chosen the location, but hopes to make a decision by next year. The new center most likely will not be at its $1.1 billion auto manufacturing plant currently under construction in Berkeley County.
Volvo said that the center will train thousands of technicians for dealerships nationwide at classes held at the site twice a year.
The Swedish company has pledged nearly 3,000 jobs by the mid-2020s.
There were more than 60,000 advertised jobs in South Carolina during March, according to the Conference Board’s monthly Help Wanted Online (HWOL) report.
However, that number is down slightly to 60,300 from 61,300 in February.
Department of Employment and Workforce spokesman Bob Bouyea told South Carolina Radio Network the change is an indication of the state’s job market.
“It is taking may be a longer period of time to fill because of the tighter labor market,” he said. “Here in South Carolina, we have 4.4 percent unemployment, which is fairly low for this state.”
He said those listed jobs are the ones known to the public. “If you look back over the last year, that’s been fairly consistent, we’ve been in the low 60,000,” he added.
The South Carolina industry with the most job openings is professional and related jobs (19,032 listed) and paying an average hourly wage of $29.69. This sector is followed by sales and office (11,710), paying on average $15.98 per hour.
The February Supply/Demand rate stands at 1.66 unemployed for each advertised vacancy in South Carolina. The national February Supply/Demand rate is 1.42.