South Carolina economy looking good for 2012

More workers will find jobs, employees will get raises and modest homes could increase slightly in value in South Carolina next year, according to economists at USC.

But the economic recovery will remain fragile, according to Darla Moore School of Business economists Doug Woodward and Joey Von Nessen, who spoke Wednesday at the university’s annual economic outlook conference.

The state’s economy “is looking pretty good,” Woodward said. “South Carolina is in relatively good shape and if there is growth in the U.S. economy we are positioned to do fairly well.”

But Von Nessen warned the 200 or so business and economic leaders at the conference that “uncertainty is still high, and any market change could easily rock the boat.”

The most important factor in the state’s recovery is jobs, the economists said. And, surprisingly, manufacturing is leading a rebound in South Carolina, which state leaders termed a “renaissance.”

The state has added more than 21,000 manufacturing jobs in the past year. And with big hitters like aerospace giant Boeing, tiremakers Continental and Bridgestone, and online retailer opening facilities in the state, that number will continue to rise.

The tiremakers in particular are serendipitous, because no one thought the tiremaking industry in the country would rebound, Woodward said.

However, in 2009, President Barack Obama imposed a 35 percent duty on Chinese tires, over the objections of many Republican lawmakers, and plants are now being opened and expanded here, he said.

“It worked,” Woodward said.

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