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Economic forecast: Lowcountry leads the way

  • Wednesday, February 27, 2013


South Carolina’s Lowcountry is leading the state in economic growth.
That’s the news two economists delivered to local business leaders Feb. 22 during the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Economic Forecast at Trident Technical College’s main campus.
Two experts in the field took the podium to share their insight: Moore School of Business Research Economist Joey Von Nessen and Bruce Yandle, a distinguished professor and Dean Emeritus at Clemson University.
The Charleston area is ranked No. 9 nationally as far as economic growth goes in the post-recession United States, Von Nessen said.
South Carolina has a high variability in jobs, with high levels of increases and losses, Von Nessen said. In 2012 the employment growth nearly doubled compared to 2011.
“A lot of hiring we see is from contract work for a fixed period of time,” Von Nessen said. “It’s still a tale of manufacturing in South Carolina. A majority of South Carolina counties have grown in excess of the national average. We’re expecting a slight decrease on the state overall.”
That’s due to increased payroll taxes and the end of Bush-era tax cuts, according to Von Nessen. That means smaller paychecks and less consumer spending, he added.
“When people get a lump sum they’re more likely to save it. When it comes incrementally people spend more.
“We’re growing at a fairly good rate in South Carolina so we should be able to blunt some of that.”
Von Nessen said he expects personal income to go up a little more than three percent and expects inflation to be about two percent in the year ahead.
Yandle started by staying he is an optimist: “I think our frame of mind does affect outcomes. So be optimistic even when it gets dark.
“Retails sales have practically recovered. We’re almost back where we were when we got on the (downward) sliding board (starting after 9/11). In about the second quarter of 2014 we’ll be back to where we were before the big slide.”
He said South Carolina is the number one auto exporter in the country, beating Detroit. The Palmetto State is also the number one exporter of tires.
“We’re exporting to 199 countries,” Yandle said. “BMW (in Spartanburg) is turning out 1,000 of those SUVs everyday. That first Boeing plane – look where that was headed – Air India.”
He said the U.S. gross domestic product growth was less than two percent last year, but the good news is, developing countries in the world are experiencing the biggest economic boom in history.
Yandle showed a graph of how pickup truck sales have surpassed automobile sales, which he said is a good thing because those trucks are driven by people that make real things such as installing drywall and putting vinyl siding on houses.

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