With metropolitan area boundaries based on counties, and counties very small units of government in the South, the Greenville-Anderson-Spartanburg “combined area” consists of three separate Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) despite having less than 1.2 million people. According to Current Employment Survey (CES) data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), total non-farm payroll employment fell in two of the three MSAs in the year to July 2012, but a gain of 6,300 jobs (5.6%) in the Spartanburg MSA portion of the area was sufficient to give the combined area a small gain of 2,500 (0.5%). For the entire combined area, according to household-based data from the BLS, the number of employed residents actually decreased during the latest July-to-July period, by about 1,100 (0.2%). The unemployment rate fell only because the labor force fell faster, by 6,500 (1.1%). According to Moody’s Economy.com, the area population is expanding slightly faster than the U.S. average, by about 1.2% (13,600) per year.
With detailed data suppressed by rule to maintain business confidentiality, the Greenville MSA is the only one of the three with a large enough employment base for sectoral detail. This MSA suffered a loss of 3,000 jobs (1.0%) in the year to July according to CES data, with much of the damage in the Government sector (down 1,600 or 4.0%) but weakness widespread. Included was a decrease of 900 jobs (2.3%) in Manufacturing, but there was good news for this sector at the start of October. GSA News reported “Lockheed Martin Corp.’s site in Greenville will share in a $218 million contract to modify Coast Guard HC-130J Hercules aircraft.” The site “provides full service maintenance, repair and overhaul services,” and will work on the Hercules, which is “used by the Coast Guard for search-and-rescue and maritime reconnaissance missions. It carries a crew of five to seven, depending on the scope of the mission. The contract calls for work to be completed by May 31, 2016.”
Businesses in South Carolina also got a reprieve from an automatic tax increase in late September according to the Columbia Regional Business Report. Like many states, South Carolina had not saved up nearly enough money in its unemployment insurance fund to cope with the high joblessness of the Great Recession, and was forced to borrow from the federal government to pay benefits. “Some employers saw their unemployment insurance tax jump considerably in 2011 after the state reformed the method for collecting unemployment insurance because it needed money to repay $933 million in federal loan used to pay jobless benefits. South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce said it is recalculating the rates this year to account for a $77 million state general fund appropriations used to help pay back the outstanding federal loans and ease businesses’ transition to the new tax rate structure implemented in 2011.” The federal loan is supposed to be paid off by 2015.