State economic index hits highest level since 2008

Staff Report
Published April 8, 2013

South Carolina’s leading index of economic indicators in February reached its highest value since 2008, according to a recent report by the state Department of Commerce.

The index — which looks at economic factors such as personal income, employment and home sales — reached 100.76, up 0.31 point from the previous month.

The index has been above 100 for 15 months and has consistently forecast positive growth, according to the report.

“South Carolina’s economic outlook is strong,” said S.C. Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt. “From being a global leader in manufacturing to having thriving aerospace, automotive and tire industries, the Palmetto State is solidifying its reputation for being a state of business that offers a world of opportunity.”

Hitt noted that South Carolina has added 21,000 jobs and recruited more than $9 billion in investment since January 2011.

“The trend continues and South Carolina’s economy is moving forward,” Hitt said.

One highlight in the report was a 47% drop from the previous month in initial claims for unemployment insurance that were filed in February.

“This is good news for our state, good news for our businesses and good news for our citizens,” Hitt said.

Some of the positives in the report include:

  • 1.7% increase in personal income in the fourth quarter of 2012. Total personal income grew to $164.8 billion.
  • 5.3% gain in the S.C. stock index.
  • 1% increase in nonfarm employment.
  • 0.1% increase in the labor force to 2.179 million.
  • 0.1% drop in the unemployment rate for February, down to 8.6% from the previous month.
  • 1.4% increase in manufacturing hours, which averaged 42.1 hours per week.
  • 1.2% increase in available online job postings.

The report noted, however, that the price of a single-family home slipped 0.3% to $145,000 in February, and residential building permits dropped 5.5% to 1,612 during the month.

Still, homebuilding activity is up 10% over a year ago, the report said.

The number of residential housing permits issued over the last 12 months in the Charleston, Columbia, Greenville and Spartanburg metro areas was up 30% over the previous year, the report noted.

In a year-over-year comparison, residential closings are up 16% in Charleston, 21% in Columbia and 12% in Greenville, the report said.

For the year, home prices are up 4.3%.

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