The Greater Charleston economy continues to outperform other areas of the state and nation, with a stable gross regional product (GRP) growth, according to an analysis of the region’s business, governmental, community and academic data. The Charleston Regional Development Alliance and Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce released its “2014 “Regional Economic Scorecard” this month which follows economic trends in the Charleston metro area. The report concludes that the Greater Charleston economy is performing well and undergoing significant transformation. The area has the key ingredients necessary to become an economic powerhouse similar to Raleigh and Austin.
Several Indicators Point to Strength of Charleston Economy
The report looks at several economic indicators of the local market to analyze economic outcomes for the Charleston region, including the GRP, export activity, regional employment, average annual pay, and per capita income (PCI). The report compares the Charleston region with similar metro markets, including Austin, Raleigh, Greenville, Savannah, Richmond, Knoxville, Lexington, and Jacksonville.
Charleston’s GRP grew 35.4 percent between 2005 -2012, significantly outperforming all comparative metro areas, the state and nationally. Only Raleigh and Austin outperform the Charleston area.
Charleston’s region’s exports grew by 32.7 percent to 3.9 billion annually, from 2010 to 2012. The data measures the dollar value of all purchases of US goods and services by residents of foreign countries. As a result the Charleston metro area ranks 26 out of 100 comparable metro areas in the country for foreign exports.
From 2005 to 2013 the number of people employed in the area grew by 13.1 percent. The growth in employment far outpaced other peer metro areas (double or triple the growth), including the state of South Carolina overall (with a 4.9 percent employment growth rate). Nationally, the rate of growth was 1.6 percent. Austin and Raleigh were the only two metro areas to have stronger employment growth (24.7 percent and 18.1 percent respectively).
Charleston region’s average annual pay grew 21.8 percent to $41,273 from 2005 -2012. The area experienced a slightly larger growth rate than all other metro areas in the country. However, the region’s average salary remains below the national average of $49,289.
The per capita income (PCI) for the Charleston metro area grew by 21.8 percent to $39,444 between 2005 and 2012, but remains below the national average ($43,735).
New Systems and Strategies Needed to Match Charleston Economy
As a region the report concludes that we need to develop and build the necessary systems to promote and support innovation. We need to develop strategies to graduate, attract and retain local talent to sustain long term economic growth. The report cites the need to improve the infrastructure of the Charleston region, with the development of new modes of transportation, and an increase in housing affordability. Local leaders need to focus on these long term goals to maintain a positive economic outlook for the Charleston region and to be competitive globally.
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