USC Economists Say SC Economy to Remain Strong in 2018

University of South Carolina economists said the state’s economy will remain strong in 2018, despite a tight labor market and large layoffs in the Midlands area.

Job creation, the single best indicator of economic performance, is expected to grow at 2.1 percent in 2018, according to research economist Joseph Von Nessen who spoke at the annual economic outlook conference in Columbia on Friday.

“Although our current economic expansion is now in its ninth year, it’s important to remember that economic expansions don’t die of old age,” Von Nessen said. “Market fundamentals are strong and the state’s economy is in a very good position as we head toward 2018.”

The manufacturing sector and professional and business services sectors continued to drive the state’s economy in 2017 while construction dropped off due to rising lumber prices.

Von Nessen said the single best indicator of economic performance – job creation – is expected to grow at 2.1 percent in 2018.

Despite a positive outlook for 2018, Von Nessen said addressing workforce challenges in South Carolina will be vital.

“Labor availability will be the bottleneck of economic growth in 2018,” Von Nessen said.

Without more job training in state or recruitment from out of state, the workforce problem will grow and compound as Baby Boomers retire. USC economist Doug Woodward said some of those problems can be offset, however, through greater implementation of efficient technology, robotics and artificial intelligence.

The USC Darla Moore School forecasts the unemployment rate over the next 12 months will drop slightly to about 3.6 percent from the current rate of 3.9 percent. Total personal income is expected to grow at 4.3 percent in 2018, which would be an increase from its growth rate of 3.8 percent in 2017.