State economy expected to grow in coming year

Good news for South Carolina's economy in the coming year: University of South Carolina economists predict job growth and industry expansion across the state.

But economists are worried about what they're not seeing and you might be worried about it too.

Unemployment is down, job growth is up and overall, many counties in South Carolina are doing better economically speaking than they were at their pre-recession peak in 2004.

The best news, according to USC economists, is that this growth will continue into next year.

"So we fell a long way, there's no question. But we're moving from a recovery into an expansion," said USC research economist Joseph Von Nessen.

Economists say employment in 2013 grew 1.5%. That's a faster growth rate than before the recession began and its widespread.

"Every county in South Carolina saw employment growth over the last 12 months and in 2014, we're expecting that to be stronger," said Von Nessen.

Industries like construction, retail and tourism have grown aggressively in 2013, but
manufacturing continues to be the state's leading job generator -- something Governor Nikki Haley has pushed hard for over the years.

"I basically go to them and say 'I want you to promise me two things: one that you will hire South Carolinians, and, two; you have to use South Carolina businesses for your contracts," Haley said.

The only bad news in this forecast? South Carolinians are spending more, but not necessarily making more money.

"They don't see their wages and salaries going up as you would expect to see in this stage of a business cycle," said Director of Research and USC economist Dough Woodward. "We're hoping in 2014 we'll also see our incomes increase."

Governor Haley says to continue the positive growth she'd eventually like to eliminate state income tax.

"It would be huge. Not only would you then get the business investment, but you're getting CEO's, you're getting second homes, so much of the business economy would turn if we did that," she said.

Unemployment is currently at 7.5% in South Carolina and economists predict by this time next year, it will be down even further to 6.8%.

Economists also expressed their concerns in the forecast that roughly one in five jobs is a part time position- either for economic reasons or because a full time position couldn't be found. That level has been stagnant since 2009, and may not decrease very much as the tourism industry expands.

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