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South Carolina: The Hub of Rapid Population and Economic Growth

Economic growth in South Carolina

South Carolina: The Hub of Rapid Population and Economic Growth

South Carolina is experiencing a rapid surge in its population and economic indicators, defying the impacts of the global pandemic. The state entered 2024 on a high note with key sectors booming and display of positive long-term migration patterns – offering a promising picture for the Southeastern state to harness this growth.

Unemployment Rate and Economic Recovery

South Carolina proved its resilience amid the pandemic as it exhibited a faster economic recovery than the overall US. The state’s unemployment rate spiked to 11.7% in April 2020, but by the end of the same year, it was under 5%. As of December, thanks to the swift re-opening of businesses post-lockdowns, the state’s unemployment rate stands at a mere 3% – a marked contrast to the US’s slower recovery where it took till September 2021 to reach the 5% unemployment level.

While businesses were able to swiftly rehire employees following the lifting of lockdown measures, the state’s strategic position as a “drive-to state” rather than a “fly-to state” helped its tourism economy to rebound faster than its counterparts.

Key Industries Fueling the Growth

South Carolina’s economic growth, marked by a 5.7% rate in the third quarter of the previous year, was underpinned by two major sectors, namely advanced manufacturing – automotive, tire and aerospace industries – and retail and distribution sectors – such as warehousing, ports, and rail. These industry clusters combined have produced an impressive economic impact of $48.3 billion, marking a more than 25% expansion since 2010, and presently, they collectively employ upwards of 150,000 individuals.

Workforce Challenges and Strategic Solutions

Despite the promising economic scenario, the state faces a critical challenge of worker shortage. In December 2023 alone, there were nearly 2.3 jobs for every resident job seeker, clearly outweighing the national ratio of 1.4. The state’s response to this challenge is strategic and involves substantial reliance on its vast network of technical colleges and workforce development programs.

Influx of Population and Job Opportunities

Last year, South Carolina became the fastest-growing state with an impressive growth of 1.7%. With a current population of 5.4 million, the state is becoming a prime location for retirees and people seeking job opportunities and a lower cost of living. Moreover, the robust housing market and strengthened manufacturing industry have played critical roles in attracting new residents. However, the increasing interest rates and a shortage of inventory due to underbuilding pose challenges for a consistent growth rate.

Healthcare Industry Responding to Population Growth

Rapid population growth has particularly spiked the demand in the healthcare sector, leading to the planned opening of several new hospitals in the coming years, especially in the Myrtle Beach area, which has been recognized as the fastest-growing place in the US for three consecutive years. In response to the increased patient flow and need for updated facilities, hospitals are paving their way into new areas with planned development.

Challenges in Hiring and Industry Outputs

While the healthcare and other industries demonstrate remarkable growth, it is accompanied by the challenge of sourcing both clinical and support staff in an already tight labor market. On another note, the increased demand led the largest domestic supplier of bicycles to Walmart – Kent International – to raise their starting salary to $15 an hour from $13 in the early stages of the pandemic.

Economic Outlook Amid Inflation

Despite the bright economic picture, South Carolina residents hold a rather pessimistic outlook for the state and national economy, as well as their personal finances, apparently due to the unsparing impacts of inflation. As inflation remains high, households continue to feel the burden of increased costs for essential commodities, leading to a rather grim view of the economy even in the face of a promising economic growth scenario in the state.

South Carolina: The Hub of Rapid Population and Economic Growth Spartanburg SC

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