South Carolina’s Population and Economy Are Booming, Sen. Tom Young Says
Like the feet and heart of the X Ambassadors pop band, South Carolina’s population and economy are booming, S.C. Sen. Tom Young, R-Aiken, said Thursday.
Young told the crowd at the Aiken Chamber of Commerce State of Our Community event that South Carolina’s population and economy are among the fastest growing in the country.
“You turn on the evening news and you see the stuff that’s not great. … It seems like it’s always negative,” Young said as he addressed the audience at the Etherredge Center. “Well, we’ve got some good things to tell you about in South Carolina.”
Second fastest-growing state on the East Coast
He said the 2020 Census results showed South Carolina had the second highest population increase from the 2010 Census.
Specifically, a map from the Census Bureau shows South Carolina had a population growth rate of 10.7% from 2010 to 2020, second behind Florida (14.6 percent) on the East Coast.
That growth has accelerated since 2020.
Data from the Census Bureau indicates South Carolina ranks fifth in the nation in percentage of population growth from April 1, 2020, to July 1, 2022. South Carolina gained 164,205 people, a growth rate of 3.2 percent.
This would also place South Carolina second on the East Coast behind Florida, which gained 706,597 people which is a growth rate of 3.3 percent.
Sixth in year-to-year business growth
Young said South Carolina ranks sixth in year-to-year business growth. He added Area Development ranked South Carolina second in business friendliness.
“That speaks volumes about our business climate and the leadership we have in this state and the work that the companies are doing in our state,” Young said.
Young said the South Carolina Department of Commerce announced 120 new economic development projects with a capital investment of more than $10.2 billion and over 14,000 new jobs.
Young added that 78 percent of those new jobs were in manufacturing and 25 percent were in Tier III or IV counties.
Each year, the South Carolina Department of Revenue divides the state’s 46 counties into tiers based on unemployment rate and per capita income. The counties with the highest unemployment rates and lowest per capita income rates are in Tier IV.
The unemployment rate decreases and the per capita rate increases as the Tier levels decrease from IV to I. The state offers higher levels of incentives for companies that build in Tier III or IV counties.
Aiken is a Tier I county. However, nearby Allendale, Barnwell and Bamberg counties are Tier IV counties.
“It’s important for us to see job growth and creation in Tier III and Tier IV counties for the quality of life in those counties as well,” Young added.
Young said South Carolina exported nearly $31.5 billion worth of goods in 2022.
“Some of that was right here in Aiken County,” Young said.
Young said the state’s non-farm employment increased by 2.1 percent from August 2022 to August 2023.
“We have a much lower unemployment rate in South Carolina than the national average,” Young continued.
Young said South Carolina’s August unemployment rate was 3 percent compared to 3.8 percent nationally.
Tires, planes and cars
Young said South Carolina ranks first in the nation in the number of tires produced with 144,000 per day.
“We are the tire manufacturing state in the country, not Ohio,” Young said. “When I was growing up, Ohio was the state that made the most tires. We now make the most tires.”
He added some of those tires are manufactured at Bridgestone’s two Aiken County plants.
Young added Boeing makes more than one Dreamliner per month at its North Charleston plant and 60 percent of the vehicles BMW sells in the United States are made in Greer. He said some of the components for both products are made at Aiken’s Autoneum plant.
Young added the South Carolina Ports Authority’s traffic increased by 3 percent in June 2023 as compared to June 2022.
“That’s the direct result of the great job the port leadership is doing and the work that the businesses in South Carolina that use the port are doing,” Young said.
He added the Port of Charleston is now the deepest port on the East Coast.
Young also provided a status update on several Aiken County projects funded by the state’s $600 million settlement with the federal government over plutonium stored at the Savannah River Site.
He also showed a list of potential topics the South Carolina General Assembly could discuss when it returns to session in January.