Manufacturing and Export Growth to Drive Industrial Market

Key Takeaways

  • Capital investments continue to strengthen the South Carolina economy with investments from both national and international companies.
  • Manufacturing employment is on the rise, but remains below pre-recession levels.
  • 2014 exports set records and maintain ranking.  Activity is up at the Port of Charleston and South Carolina Inland Port.
  • The vacancy rate is holding steady given the tight market.
  • Industrial market conditions mirror those seen in neighboring markets and across the nation.
  • Speculative and build-to-suit construction is gaining momentum in response to growing demand for quality industrial space.

Strengthening Economy Supports Industrial Growth

Real GDP growth in the United States was reported at 2.2% for the fourth quarter of 2014, expanding 14 out of the past 15 quarters.  The most recent South Carolina real GDP reportedly grew at 1.2% in 2013, expanding since 2010.  Manufacturing made up 17.5% of real GDP in 2013, largely contributing to the South Carolina economy.  Expansion is forecasted to continue.

Manufacturing employment is growing in South Carolina, with 232,400 employed in February 2015, the highest employment level since November 2008 when employment was 234,900.  Although manufacturing jobs are increasing, growth is occurring at a slower pace than it was in 2011 when 10 months showed year-over-year changes greater than 4.0%.  As of February 2015, employment was up 2.4% over the previous year. 

Hourly wage rates are higher than they were in the past, averaging $23.50 in February 2015.  Although wage rates are increasing, they remain below the national average of $25.00.  South Carolina’s right-to-work status, skilled labor force and low labor costs make it attractive to both manufacturers planning a new facility and employees benefiting from the state’s low cost of living and inviting environment.

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