South Carolina’s economy will continue to be healthy next year, with job growth, unemployment and personal income all moving in the right direction, research economists at the University of South Carolina predicted.
On the downside, a strengthened labor market means employers will continue struggling to find qualified workers for open positions, according to economists Doug Woodward and Joseph Von Nessen of USC’s Moore School of Business.
The economists released their annual forecast for the state economy during USC’s 36th annual Economic Outlook Conference in Columbia.
They predicted job creation to grow 2.6 percent in 2017, the unemployment rate to drop from 4.7 percent to 4.5 percent and personal income to grow 4.8 percent.
“South Carolina’s economy is growing at a healthy pace,” Von Nessen said in a press release. “And we expect the state to continue to build on this momentum in 2017.”
He said a strengthened labor market is good news for workers but makes it harder for employers to find enough employees with the right skills.
“Going forward, if we want to achieve a higher rate of economic growth, this skills gap will have to be addressed,” Von Nessen said.
Looking back, the economists said manufacturing and professional and business services were South Carolina’s fastest-growing economic sectors in 2016.
Employment grew in most metro areas between October 2015 and October 2016, they found, with Charleston’s 3.2 percent rate outpacing the 1.3 percent gain in Greenville.
During the same period, building permits for single-family housing surged in the Upstate, rising 37.8 percent in Spartanburg and 12.9 percent in Greenville.