It may be aggravating to wait in line at a store or have slow service because a fast food restaurant can’t hire enough people to keep up with demand, but these small annoyances are a small price to pay for the impact on South Carolina’s economy.

Here are indicators that the economy is moving in the right direction:

Dining out

Spending on food service from both South Carolina residents and out-of-state visitors rose to $3.9 billion in 2015 from $2.8 billion in 2009, at the end of the Great Recession, according to the state Department of Parks and Recreation. Momentum is expected to continue. A large number of new restaurants that have opened in Columbia is an indication of an improving economy.


Like restaurants, hotels are riding the improving economic wave. When people have more disposable income they feel more secure that their jobs are safe and are willing to take a vacation. Stats from South Carolina Parks and Recreation show spending on hotels in the state increased to nearly $3 billion in 2015 from $1.9 billion in 2009. Adding to the rise in the economy are the growing travel habits of millennials.

Truck drivers

Truck drivers? Oddly enough, truck drivers – or the lack thereof – is a huge indicator of which way the economy is moving. As the economy improves, more freight must be moved and more jobs become available. As the economy worsens, the need to move product decreases, and more people are willing to sign on to drive despite the stresses of long distance hauls. The American Trucking Associations posted the shortage at about 20,000 nationally in 2011. But the group estimates that number could grow to nearly 100,000 by the end of this year.

Worker shortage

Another shortage that could have even more lasting ramifications in South Carolina are high-skill manufacturing jobs. A University of South Carolina study shows jobs requiring a college degree, including from two-year and four-year programs, will jump from 61.5 percent in 2013 to 66.7 percent in 2030. A national study by the Deloitte Manufacturing Institute shows that over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely have to be filled, resulting in 2 million of those jobs going vacant. South Carolina might be more at risk than other states because it has a small population and some big-hitting, rapidly expanding manufacturers like Boeing and BMW – with more, like Volvo and DaimlerChrysler, on the way.

Home remodeling versus purchasing

During the Great Recession, not only was it harder to qualify for a loan to purchase a house, but many people chose simply to remodel their existing homes in the face of financial uncertainty. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, South Carolina’s annual employment growth for new construction was approximately 9 percent, compared to just 6 percent for remodeling construction. In contrast, in 2014, remodeling construction employment growth was approximately 5 percent new compared to just 3 percent for construction employment growth.

Leisure spending

The amount of money spent on dining, hotels, transportation and recreation in South Carolina is growing steadily. It’s an indication that the economy is on the mend.

2009 – $9.9 billion

2010 – $10.8 billion

2011 – $11.8 billion

2012 – $12.6 billion

2013 – $13 billion

2014 – $13.5 billion

2015 – $14 billion

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