Measured by August employment data, the Charleston area Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) takes its place among a small but growing elite—those local economies that have returned to, and now exceed, pre-recession employment levels. Thus according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, (BLS), non-farm employment per that month was up 200 jobs (0.1%) from August 2007. Recent job growth, accordingly, has been strong. Non-farm employment as of August 2012 was up 5,900 jobs (2.0%) from 12 months prior and was up 14,100 jobs (4.9%) over 24 months.
Charleston’s strong performance has been led by growth in Manufacturing employment due largely to The Boeing Company. Indeed, according to local firm Lincoln Harris, “activity by Boeing and Boeing’s extended supply [resulted in] the largest jump in manufacturing jobs over the past year than any other metro area in the nation.” Boeing has chosen the region as the site for construction of some of its new 787 Dreamliner commercial aircraft. The first 787 to be built locally, completed in early October at the firm’s North Charleston facility, was for Air India, the Charlotte Regional Business Journal reported at the time. “The company is focused on increasing its rate,” stated a locally-based Boeing executive. While the number of 787’s to be produced in North Charleston was not stipulated, the facility is on pace to support the total projection of 75 deliveries this year companywide, which are a mix of 747s and 787s, according to the source. Since Boeing selected the Charleston area, it has hired 6,100 personnel, according to the report. According to BLS data, employment in the Manufacturing sector in the local MSA as of August was up fully 3,900 jobs (18.8%) over 24 months.
Other sectors also have seen recent expansion. Employment in the Professional and Business Services sector as of August was up 2,400 jobs (5.6%) from 12 months prior. Same-period growth in Trade, Transportation and Utilities was up 2,400 jobs (4.3%). This sector would be expected to benefit from the expansion of the Panama Canal if the local harbor is deepened such as to accommodate large ships. A $300 million budget, to that end, has been approved by the state. The project could be completed by 2019, the Journal reported in late July. Year-over-year growth is indicated as well for the Construction sector and for the federal and state Government sectors (but not for local government, which saw a small loss).
According to the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors (CTAR), the 1,014 homes sold in the metro area in August were up 12.2% year-over- year, the Journal reported in September. The median price was $198,757. Total year-to-date sales were up 10.0% from the comparable period of 2011. “The August sales figures are ongoing evidence of consistency and stability in our market,” a top CTAR executive informed this source. Inventory and time on the market have been declining, adds the report.