U of SC economists predict strong 2017 SC economy amid political uncertainty

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA-TV) – South Carolina economists are already looking ahead to 2017, forecasting our economic health in a year of political uncertainty.The USC Darla Moore School of Business released its annual economic outlook, Thursday.

There’s some good news ahead predicted for 2017, with job creation and personal wealth on the rise. Other things, like how a trump presidency or a new governor will affect the palmetto state, are harder to a gauge.

“What we know for certain as we enter 2017 is that we have a growing economy reaching towards full employment,” said Dr. Daniel Woodward, USC research economist.

Near-full employment in South Carolina is something very different than when Governor Nikki Haley took office in 2011, according to Woodward and fellow economist, Dr. Joseph von Nessen.

Outlined in their 2017 economic outlook, researchers predict that Haley’s exit to the UN Ambassadorship will leave the next governor to deal with tackling a labor force skills gap.

“From an employer perspective, as they are continuing to grow, they are struggling to find qualified workers,” said von Nessen.

On a positive note, the report predicts a steady growth for 2017. A job creation growth of nearly three percent is expected, thanks to manufacturing and business sectors.

“We’re also looking at the stimulus effects, now, coming from both the 2015 flood, as well as from Hurricane Matthew,” said von Nessen.

That means construction and retail jobs meant to aid in the rebuilding process are actually helping the state economy grow.

“We see FEMA money coming into the state being invested here through the rebuilding phase. We’ve seen insurance claims. That money is being spent, creating jobs and incomes for South Carolinians,” said von Nessen.

Personal income growth is predicted to rise steadily by about five percent. While that isn’t huge, these researchers believe it is a comfortable pace.

“We’re in a cruise control mode right now.”

The big thing that these researchers say they will focus on in 2017 is how the Trump administration will handle international trade.

South Carolina is an export power player and, while they don’t predict anything major to happen in 2017, they are waiting to see how the world will react to a President Trump.

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