Q2 2012 Columbia, South Carolina Commercial Real Estate Economy

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Q2 2012 Columbia, South Carolina Commercial Real Estate Economy


The growth of the Columbia Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) economy has started to accelerate, led by the Manufacturing and Professional and Business Services sectors. According to Current Employment Survey (CES) from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), total non-farm payroll employment increased by 9,800 (2.9%) from July 2011 to July 2012, with most of the gain in the private sector. The increase has been just 1,100 jobs (0.3%) during the year ending in July 2011. And household-based data from the BLS show the number of employed residents of the Columbia MSA, including the self-employed, rose by 7,315 (2.2%) from July 2011 to July 2012. The labor force increased as well, by 3,830 (1.0%). By both measures, therefore, the past year-over-year employment growth is double of that observed three months earlier.


CES data show a strong 2,100 (7.5%) increase in Manufacturing sector employment year-over-year in July. According to Southeast Real Estate Business, “the Columbia industrial market has seen significant investment during the past 12 months, with manufacturing continuing to lead the pack with major investments from Amazon.com, Mars Petcare, Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Bridgestone, Michelin, and Continental Tire. South Carolina—and the Central Midlands area, in particular—has experienced significant growth.” Tire manufacturing stands out according to this source, with South Carolina “fast becoming the North American capital for tire manufacturing, with most of those facilities located throughout the Midlands region.” But Amazon.com also opened a 1.2-million-square-foot facility. Accordingly, CES data show year-over-year employment increases of 100 (0.7%) in Wholesale Trade and 600 (5.6%) in Transportation and Utilities. Rounding out the industrial sectors, Construction and related sectors show a gain of 200 jobs (1.4%) during the latest July-to-July period.

There is year-over-year employment growth in office based sectors as well as of July. CES data show a strong increase of 2,500 (5.8%) jobs in the Professional and Business Services sector, and a gain of 800 (3.0%) in Financial Activities. Information sector employment increased by 200 (3.7%) year-over-year.

Local consumer-driven sectors are expanding as well. From July 2011 to July 2012, according to CES data, employment in Retail Trade rose by 1,500 (3.9%) and employment in Leisure and Hospitality increased by 100 (0.3%). The Government sector and the substantially government-subsidized private Education and Health Services sector lost jobs in the year to July 2011, but gained 1,500 (2.0%) and 100 (0.2%) jobs, respectively in the year to July 2012. No sectors lost jobs in Columbia during the period.

Household average income, according to Moody’s Economy.com, is low and rising slowly, by 0.7% in the year to the second quarter. The population, on the other hand, is rising more quickly than the U.S. average, by 9,080 (1.2%) in 2011.