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  • II. Strategic Elements

    The Unified or Combined State Plan must include a Strategic Planning Elements section that analyzes the State’s current economic environment and identifies the State’s overall vision for its workforce development system.  The required elements in this section allow the State to develop data-driven goals for preparing an educated and skilled workforce and to identify successful strategies for aligning workforce development programs to support economic growth.  Unless otherwise noted, all Strategic Planning Elements apply to Combined State Plan partner programs included in the plan as well as to core programs. 

II. a. 1. A. Economic Analysis

The Unified or Combined State Plan must include an analysis of the economic conditions and trends in the State, including sub-State regions and any specific economic areas identified by the State.  This must include—

  • i. Existing Demand Industry Sectors and Occupations

    Provide an analysis of the industries and occupations for which there is existing demand.

  • ii. Emerging Demand Industry Sectors and Occupations

    Provide an analysis of the industries and occupations for which demand is emerging.

  • iii. Employers’ Employment Needs

    With regard to the industry sectors and occupations identified in (A)(i) and (ii), provide an assessment of the employment needs of employers, including a description of the knowledge, skills, and abilities required, including credentials and licenses.

Current Narrative:

The responses for II.a.1.A. Economic Analysis and II.a.1.B. Workforce Analysis are combined responses.


By multiple measures, the South Carolina economy has experienced healthy growth over the past several years. The state’s unemployment rate has remained below that of the national rate for 23 of the past 28 months beginning in September 2016 and is now routinely one percentage point below the U.S. average.

Figure 1: S.C. and U.S. Unemployment Rate, 2015-2018

Figure 1 shows that South Carolina's unemployment rate has remained below the national rate for 23 of the past 28 months beginning in September 2016.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Seasonally Adjusted

The number of people employed in the state has increased by nearly 145,000 between January 2015 and December 2018, a 6.9 percent increase. The number of unemployed has fallen from 146,054 to 75,244 over the same period, a 48.5 percent drop.

As the state’s unemployment rate has continued to fall, there has been a growing concern among many industries of a labor shortage. The state’s employment growth in 2019 fell compared to prior years as there were fewer additional workers available to fill new jobs. The low, and continuing to fall, unemployment rate has also helped to push up nominal wage growth across the state. Average hourly earnings typically grew between 1.5 percent and 2.5 percent throughout both 2014 and 2015 before peaking between 3 percent and 5 percent from 2016-2018.

Figure 2: S.C. Total Private Average Hourly Earnings Growth

Figure 2 shows the change in average hourly earnings from March 2013 through July 2019.

Source: Current Employment Statistics, Non-Seasonally Adjusted, 3-month moving average

South Carolina’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth has also kept pace with national trends. Between 2012 and 2018, the state’s real GDP grew at an annualized rate of 2.8 percent compared to the national growth rate of 2.4 percent.

Figure 3: U.S. vs. S.C. GDP Growth

Figure 3 shows a comparison between South Carolina's GDP growth and national GDP growth.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

South Carolina’s strong economic performance is not universally distributed across the state. GDP growth for the Local Workforce Development Areas (LWDA) is only available from the Bureau of Economic Analysis through 2015. During the period 2014 to 2015 the areas of WorkLink, Greenville, Upper Savannah, Catawba, and Pee Dee grew faster than the state average, reflecting a general trend of improved economic performance in areas associated with manufacturing, particularly transportation equipment manufacturing. For 2018 and into the foreseeable future, these areas are more at risk for economic slowdowns associated with the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China as well as slower global growth, which can reduce demand for manufactured exports.

Figure 4: Local Area GDP Growth, 2014-2015

Figure 4 shows GDP growth for the Worklink, Greenville, Upper Savannah, Catawba, and Pee Dee Local Workforce Development Areas.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

More recent data at the local level is available for both employment and wage growth. As anticipated, areas of the state that have typically relied more heavily on manufacturing did not experience as much employment growth between 2017 and 2018. Areas in Figure 5 shaded in dark green represent counties with employment growth rates faster than the state average. Between December 2017 and December 2018 only one county in the state, Bamberg, saw employment declines. The coastal communities continued to experience stronger than average employment growth as the service industry, particularly leisure and hospitality related jobs, continued to experience high demand.

Figure 5: Employment Growth, 2017-2018

Figure 5 shows employment growth by county from 2017 through 2018.

Source: Local Area Unemployment Statistics, Non-Seasonally Adjusted

In terms of average annual earnings growth, the major metropolitan areas of the state have experienced the greatest levels of growth since 2015. Figure 6 provides the average hourly earnings by Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) for both December 2015 and 2018. The highest overall wages in the state occur in the Charlotte and Charleston metro areas followed by Spartanburg and Augusta. The Myrtle Beach and Sumter MSAs typically have the lowest average wages among all metro areas.

Figure 6: Average Hourly Earnings, All Private Employees, Dec 2015 & 2018

MSADecember 2015December 20182015-2018 Annualized GrowthMIT Living Wage Estimate[1]
Hilton Head$20.40$22.43+3.2%$27.29/$15.00
Myrtle Beach$19.50$20.30+1.3%$26.52/$14.61

Source: State Employment, Hours, and Earnings, Non-Seasonally Adjusted

Although wage growth has been more positive in recent years, many families in the state still experience average hourly earnings that are less than what is considered a “living wage.” The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a living wage calculator for each state to estimate the cost of living in a particular community or region based on typical expenses. The living wage differs based on household composition, but assuming one working adult and two children, the estimated living wage in South Carolina is $26.09/hour. The living wage estimates by MSA are shown in Figure 6. In the majority of MSAs the average hourly wage for one working adult with two children is insufficient to cover typical expenses.


South Carolina has consistently experienced lower labor force participation than the U.S. as a whole. In January 2008, the S.C. rate was 62.4 percent compared to the U.S. rate of 66.2 percent. This labor force participation gap remained fairly consistent through 2013 before narrowing slightly between 2014 and 2015. However, since 2015 the rates have begun once again to diverge. With the anecdotal evidence of a labor shortage developing in the state, the continued decline in the labor force participation is an area of concern.

Figure 7: Labor Force Participation Rates, 2008-2018

Figure 7 shows a comparison of South Carolina's labor force participation rate against the US labor force participation rate.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Seasonally-Adjusted

Labor force participation also differs across the state with more rural areas typically experiencing lower levels than more urban and suburban areas. Using data from the American Community Survey, 5-Year Estimates (2013-2017), the Midlands had the highest labor force participation rate for the population aged 20 to 64 followed by Trident and Catawba. The areas with the lowest rates were Upper Savannah, Santee-Lynches, and Pee Dee. Figure 8 shows the highest labor force participation rates in the traditional metropolitan areas of the state.

Figure 8: Labor Force Participation Rates, 2013-2017

Figure 8 shows labor force participation rates by Local Workforce Development Area with the highest labor force participation rates in the traditional metropolitan areas of the state.

Source: American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, 2013-2017


South Carolina currently has a high concentration of employment in the following industrial super sectors:

  • Trade, Transportation, and Utilities
  • Government
  • Professional and Business Services

These three industries represent over 50 percent of non-farm employment in South Carolina in 2018.

Figure 9: South Carolina Non-Farm Industry Employment, 2018

Figure 9 shows non-farm employment by industry with Trade, Transportation, and Utilities, Government, and Professional and Business Services representing over 50 percent of non-farm employment in South Carolina in 2018.

Source: State Employment, Hours, and Earnings, Non-Seasonally Adjusted

The latest statewide industry employment projections cover the 10-year period 2016-2026. Overall, the state is expected to grow by 11.9 percent, or by 245,900 jobs over that time period.

There is expected to be little change in the general distribution of employment among the super sectors presented in Figure 9 between 2016 and 2026. However, at a slightly lower level of disaggregation, there is expected to be a swap between Retail Trade and Health Care and Social Assistance for the state’s largest industry by employment. The industries with the largest number of projected new jobs will be Health Care and Social Assistance (+52,000); Accommodation and Food Services (+45,000); and Administrative and Support and Waste Management (+29,000). Two industries are projected to contract through 2026, Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting and Mining. Overall, these two industries are expected to decline by approximately 4,600 jobs. Figure 10 provides the detailed industry employment projections for the state.

Figure 10: S.C. Industry Employment Projections

Industry CodeIndustry TitleEstimated 2016 EmploymentProjected 2026 EmploymentNumeric ChangePercent Change
000000Total All Industries2,072,3882,318,285245,89711.9%
110000Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting38,07333,505-4,568-12.0%
420000Wholesale Trade71,77481,3789,60413.4%
440000Retail Trade246,756266,62419,8688.1%
480000Transportation and Warehousing62,89379,58916,69626.5%
520000Finance and Insurance68,15573,2115,0567.4%
530000Real Estate and Rental and Leasing29,29634,2374,94116.9%
540000Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services93,458105,87412,41613.3%
550000Management of Companies and Enterprises17,89320,5032,61014.6%
560000Administrative and Support and Waste Management158,037187,21229,17518.5%
610000Educational Services168,072183,25815,1869.0%
620000Health Care and Social Assistance243,973295,96251,98921.3%
710000Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation29,37332,2732,9009.9%
720000Accommodation and Food Services217,852263,14845,29620.8%
810000Other Services98,596103,6115,0155.1%

Source: S.C. Dept. of Employment and Workforce, Industry Employment Projections Program


According to the 2018 Occupational Employment Statistics program, South Carolina had 2.062 million wage and salary occupational employees with an average hourly wage of $20.78. The largest occupational category in the state in 2018 was Office and Administrative Support with roughly 209,500 employees. These occupations were associated with wages that were significantly below the state average. The three largest occupational sectors in the state all had below average wages and represented approximately 36 percent of all workers in S.C.

Occupational categories with the highest average hourly wages were Management ($49.57), Architecture and Engineering ($38.44), and Computer and Mathematical ($35.59). These three occupation groups jointly encompass about 8.2 percent of all workers in the state.

Figure 11: S.C. Occupational Employment and Wages, 2018

Occupational CodeOccupational TitleTotal EmploymentHourly Mean WageHourly Median Wage
00-0000All Occupations2,062,280$20.78$16.23
11-0000Management Occupations89,190$49.57$42.97
13-0000Business and Financial Operations Occupations75,560$31.07$28.23
15-0000Computer and Mathematical Occupations39,740$35.59$33.48
17-0000Architecture and Engineering Occupations40,400$38.44$36.43
19-0000Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations9,350$31.45$28.38
21-0000Community and Social Service Occupations25,090$20.75$18.64
23-0000Legal Occupations13,800$35.13$26.55
25-0000Education, Training, and Library Occupations114,270$23.10$21.97
27-0000Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations18,760$23.34$18.49
29-0000Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations125,690$35.12$28.19
31-0000Healthcare Support Occupations54,750$13.98$12.60
33-0000Protective Service Occupations47,820$18.59$17.25
35-0000Food Preparation and Serving-Related Occupations209,530$10.53$9.29
37-0000Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations70,960$12.10$10.98
39-0000Personal Care and Service Occupations59,510$11.64$9.99
41-0000Sales and Related Occupations227,570$16.63$11.84
43-0000Office and Administrative Support Occupations304,960$16.81$15.48
45-0000Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Occupations4,060$17.45$15.40
47-0000Construction and Extraction Occupations83,040$19.82$17.99
49-0000Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations95,050$21.50$20.13
51-0000Production Occupations199,480$18.75$17.20
53-0000Transportation and Material Moving Occupations153,680$16.29$14.34

Source: Occupational Employment Statistics Program, 2018

Using data from The Conference Board, Help Wanted Online Data Series, it is possible to determine the most “in-demand” jobs over the twelve month period from May 2018 through April 2019. Given that Retail Trade and Health Care and Social Assistance are among the top industries in-demand in the state, it is not surprising that the most in-demand occupations include Registered Nurses, Nursing Assistants, Retail Salespersons, Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers, and Stock Clerks. A full list of the top 25 “in-demand” occupations are shown in Figure 12.

Figure 12: S.C. Top 25 In-Demand Occupations over a 12-Month Period May 2018 – April 2019

Occupation CodeOccupation TitleS.C. 2018 Average Hourly Wage
29-1141Registered Nurses$31.22
41-1011First-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers$19.61
41-2031Retail Salespersons$12.70
53-3032Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers$21.28
43-4051Customer Service Representatives$15.54
35-1012First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers$15.65
43-5081Stock Clerks and Order Fillers$12.75
49-9071Maintenance and Repair Workers, General$17.72
43-1011First-Line Supervisors of Office and Administrative Workers$25.33
31-1014Nursing Assistants$12.21
53-3033Light Truck or Delivery Services Drivers$15.58
21-1093Social and Human Service Assistants$15.22
35-3021Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers$9.09
29-1069Physicians and Surgeons, All Other$89.04
33-9032Security Guards$15.86
15-1142Network and Computer Systems Administrators$36.36
17-2112Industrial Engineers$41.86
11-1021General and Operations Managers$48.75
51-1011First-Line Supervisors of Production and Operating Workers$32.15
11-9111Medical and Health Services Managers$47.49
41-3099Sales Representatives, Services, All Other$23.88
37-2012Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners$9.87
29-1123Physical Therapists$41.08
35-2014Cooks, Restaurant$11.38

Source: Job Postings: The Conference Board, Health Wanted Online® Data Series;

Wages: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Other in-demand occupations are in line with the large manufacturing and tourists industries that South Carolina enjoys, such as Truck Drivers, Maintenance Workers, Supervisors of Production Workers, Cashiers, and Maids.

Through the year 2026, both Food Preparation and Serving-Related Occupations as well as Office and Administrative Support Occupations will continue to remain in high demand as their employment levels are expected to increase by 40,748 and 37,442, respectively. The only occupation group expected to contract over the next decade is Farming, Fishing, and Forestry. Figure 13 provides the statewide occupational projections through 2026. Through a combination of economic growth as well as job replacement (e.g., retirement), the state will have approximately 284,000 annual job openings across all occupations.

Figure 13: S.C. Occupational Employment Projections, 2016-2026

Occupational CodeOccupational TitleEstimated 2016 EmploymentProjected 2026 EmploymentNumeric ChangePercent ChangeAnnual Total Openings
00-0000All Occupations2,205,7042,462,025256,32111.6%284,336
11-0000Management Occupations127,849137,8239,9747.8%11,214
13-0000Business and Financial Operations Occupations86,28398,37312,09014.0%9,370
15-0000Computer and Mathematical Occupations39,59745,3975,80014.6%3,350
17-0000Architecture and Engineering Occupations39,52845,0555,52714.0%3,539
19-0000Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations10,54711,4458988.5%1,061
21-0000Community and Social Service Occupations29,91133,7853,87413.0%3,719
23-0000Legal Occupations15,40117,1261,72511.2%1,224
25-0000Education, Training, and Library Occupations114,248126,87412,62611.1%11,265
27-0000Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations25,31727,2051,8887.5%2,736
29-0000Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations124,135145,74221,60717.4%9,233
31-0000Healthcare Support Occupations57,48071,49614,01624.4%8,548
33-0000Protective Service Occupations50,39053,7923,4026.8%5,424
35-0000Food Preparation and Serving-Related Occupations199,899240,66440,76520.4%40,748
37-0000Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations89,163103,16314,00015.7%13,349
39-0000Personal Care and Service Occupations76,55489,12212,56816.4%13,736
41-0000Sales and Related Occupations242,602266,02123,4199.7%37,196
43-0000Office and Administrative Support Occupations311,704328,20416,5005.3%37,442
45-0000Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Occupations23,73820,899-2,839-12.0%2,982
47-0000Construction and Extraction Occupations91,604102,60711,00312.0%10,943
49-0000Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations98,812110,72311,91112.1%10,989
51-0000Production Occupations198,592209,33410,7425.4%23,924
53-0000Transportation and Material Moving Occupations152,350177,17524,82516.3%22,346

Source: S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, Occupational Employment Projections Program

The occupation groups expected to grow the fastest, in terms of percentage growth, include Healthcare Support (+24.4%), Food Preparation and Serving-Related (+20.4%), and Healthcare Practitioners and Technical (+17.4%). In terms of specific occupations expected to grow fastest through 2026, this includes Home Health Aides, Physician Assistants, and Nurse Practitioners. Occupations expected to decline in the near future include Respiratory Therapy Technicians, Word Processors and Typists, and Fallers. Most of the occupations expected to decline through 2026 are likely to be eliminated due to increased automation and technical advances.

Figure 14: Statewide Projected Fastest Growing and Declining Occupations, 2016-2026

RankFastest GrowingFastest Declining
1Home Health AidesRespiratory Therapy Technicians
2Physicians AssistantsWord Processors and Typists
3Nurse PractitionersFallers
4StatisticiansComputer Operators
5Personal Care AidesLegal Secretaries
6Operations Research AnalystsData Entry Keyers
7Software Developers, ApplicationsSwitchboard Operators, Including Answering Service
8Physical Therapist AidesCoin, Vending, and Amusement Machine Servicers and Repairers
9Medical AssistantsFarmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural managers
10Respiratory TherapistsExecutive Secretaries and Executive Administrative Assistants
11Combined Food Preparation and Serving WorkersFarmworkers, Farm, Ranch, and Aquacultural Animals
12Physical Therapist AssistantsLogging Equipment Operators
13Massage TherapistsEngine and Other Machine Assemblers
14Physical TherapistsPhotographers
15Health Specialties Teachers, PostsecondaryFarmworkers and Laborers, Crop, Nursery, and Greenhouse
16Machine Feeders and OffbearersNuclear Power Reactor Operators
17Occupational TherapistsElectrical and Electronic Equipment Assemblers
18Health Technologists and Technicians, All OtherAgricultural Equipment Operators
19Security and Fire Alarm Systems InstallersStructural Metal Fabricators and Fitters
20Mental Health CounselorsChemical Plant and System Operators

Source: S.C. Dept. of Employment and Workforce, Occupational Employment Projections Program

Note: Fastest growing by percent increase with at least 100 new positions; fastest declining by percent decrease with at least 50 fewer positions.


Understanding industry requirements for jobs is crucial to keep the state’s economy growing. The knowledge, skills, and abilities required for today’s jobs vary greatly by occupation. This section highlights the education level of the workforce that is currently demanded by employers, presents several comparisons of employer needs in terms of education, and gives an assessment of the state’s workforce in ability to meet those needs. It also highlights the certification and licenses mostly commonly requested by employers in recent job postings.


Nationwide there is a lack of clarity on the best way to measure the demand for education. The BLS produces a listing of the typical level of education that is needed for entry into over 800 detailed occupations but does not necessarily advocate using those as the sole measure of educational demand. The goal of their system is to provide career advice to students as well as for individuals who are interested in switching careers. The actual distribution of educational attainment within each occupation can be significantly different that the educational requirement category listed by BLS (e.g., in 2012-2013 5.4 percent of fast food cooks held a bachelor’s degree or higher).

Despite these limitations, the BLS educational requirements by occupation represent one method for attempting to determine potential educational demand in South Carolina. However, these estimates and any conclusions drawn from these estimates should be approached with caution.

Educational requirements can be grouped into four general categories: less than high school, high school diploma or equivalent, some college or associate’s degree, and bachelor’s degree or higher. According to measures of labor demand from the BLS, just under 21 percent of jobs in South Carolina require a bachelor’s degree or higher while just under 60 percent of jobs require only a high school diploma or less. Eleven percent of jobs require some college or an associate’s degree.

Figure 15: S.C. Jobs by Education Level Required, 2018

EducationOES EmploymentOES PercentGeosol Job PostingsGeosol Percent
Less than high school544,35027%21,58516%
High school diploma or equivalent853,24042%65,69850%
Some college or associate’s degree226,98011%12,1059%
Bachelor’s degree or higher423,64021%33,26625%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Survey (OES); Geographic Solutions, Inc.

Using data from Geographic Solutions’ online job postings, it appears slightly more occupations were in demand that required at least some college, however this may be the result of selection bias. If employers believe that the type of worker they need for their job is not likely to search online job postings, there may be fewer of these types of jobs posted.


In addition to education, employers often require, recommend, or suggest specific certifications they would like for an ideal job candidate to possess. Figure 16 presents the findings from an analysis of online job postings from November 2014 to October 2015 in regards to preferred certifications. Individual and commercial driver’s licenses are the most commonly requested certifications followed by certified registered nurse and basic life support.

These same job postings were also examined for the various soft/hard skills that employers typically request from candidates. Soft skills are those attributes not defined by technical accomplishments or certifications attained. They are interpersonal skills or character trains that define an individual. The analysis shows that in-demand soft skills include communication skills, integrity, team-orientation, detail-orientation, problem solving skills, and self-motivation.

Figure 16: Top 10 Employer-Requested Soft Skills and Certifications in S.C.

Soft/Hard SkillsCertification
Oral and written communicationDriver’s License
IntegrityCommercial Driver’s License
MarketingCertified Registered Nurse
Team-oriented, teamworkBasic Life Support
Microsoft OfficeHAZMAT
Detail orientedCertification in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
Customer service orientedOccupational Safety & Health Administration Certification
Problem solvingContinuing Education
Organizational skillsFood safety programs
Self-starting/Self-motivatedLicensed Practical Nurse

Source: The Conference Board, Help Wanted Online®


In a survey conducted in 2017 by the Department of Commerce, manufactures were given the opportunity to provide feedback on their workforce concerns. The survey found that companies are least concerned about filling their entry-level positions and positions that require a high school diploma. They are most concerned about positions that require four to ten years of experience or special skills certifications, and management positions. Key takeaways from the survey reinforce the need for middle-level skills.

An additional analysis completed in 2017 compared regional staffing patterns, educational attainment data from postsecondary institutions, and employment projections from the Department of Employment and Workforce to determine whether there appeared to be an over or under supply of workers in five sectors of interest for the state: Business and IT Services; Construction; Diversified Manufacturing; Healthcare; and Transportation, Logistics, and Warehousing.

Figure 17 presents a selection of the occupations in each sector that showed the largest potential imbalances between projected worker demand and projected worker supply. Next steps include vetting these findings with industry leaders and crafting policies to address imbalances.

Figure 17: Projected Worker Supply and Demand in Selected Occupations

SOCDescriptionProjected Gap
 Business and IT Services 
11-3021Computer and Information Systems Managers135
15-1152Computer Network Support Specialists71
15-1133Software Developers, Systems Software70
49-9071Maintenance and Repair Workers, General(253)
51-2092Team Assemblers(395)
53-7062Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand(602)
26-1198Construction Managers3,460
51-4121Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers244
49-9021Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers177
47-2073Operating Engineers and Other Construction Equipment Operators(105)
47-2061Construction Laborers(398)
 Diversified Manufacturing 
51-4121Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers156
51-4081Multiple Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic76
51-4031Cutting, Punching, and Press Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic75
49-9071Maintenance and Repair Workers, General(401)
51-2092Team Assemblers(627)
53-7062Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand(955)
31-9092Medical Assistants1,301
29-2061Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses547
39-9021Personal Care Aides(472)
31-1011Home Health Aides(554)
31-1014Nursing Assistants(578)
31-9092Medical Assistants1,301
 Transportation, Logistics, and Warehousing 
49-3011Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians29
53-3041Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs1
49-9071Maintenance and Repair Workers, General(235)
51-2092Team Assemblers(368)
53-7062Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand(560)

Source: South Carolina Focus Industry Demand Supply Gap Analyses, Oct 2017

A broader analysis of the supply and demand gap statewide is shown below. This analysis compares the number of student completions from public and private postsecondary institutions to projected annual job openings that require education beyond high school. The openings shows those occupations requiring more than a high school education, as defined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The information is also matched to one of 16 education-based career clusters.

Note that the BLS assignment of the typical educational requirements is for entry into an occupation and may not include all paths of entry. Many positions require higher levels of education than the level assigned by BLS. In addition, changing entry requirements for some occupations may lead to more educated individuals entering jobs than those who already hold a similar position (e.g., registered nurses typically required a two-year associate’s degree but many hospitals now require a four-year bachelor’s degree).

Figure 18: South Carolina Postsecondary Completers by Career Cluster, 2015-2016 (Labor Supply)

Career ClusterLess than 4 YearsBachelor’s DegreeMaster’s DegreeDoctoral or Professional DegreeTotal
Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources2353784022675
Architecture & Construction9741695751,205
Arts, Audio/Video Technology & Communications2372,267148302,682
Business Management & Administration1,6623,6501,236106,558
Education & Training4,9084,4981,91713811,461
Government & Public Administration10872918981
Health Science6,5172,23975594710,457
Hospitality & Tourism4314892616962
Human Services2,2392,143686575,125
Information Technology912743119171,791
Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security666776603361,838
Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics886,0938833077,371
Transportation, Distribution & Logistic9991611-1,026
Grand Total22,69627,1446,2181,89257,950

Source: Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

Figure 19: South Carolina Projected Average Annual Job Openings Requiring Postsecondary Education (Labor Demand)

Career ClusterLess than 4 YearsBachelor’s DegreeMaster’s DegreeDoctoral or Professional DegreeTotal
Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources124274--398
Architecture & Construction9141,561--2,475
Arts, Audio/Video Technology & Communications640982--1,622
Business Management & Administration2,8508,624--11,474
Education & Training2,5246,7591,7051,55912,547
Government & Public Administration-76738-805
Health Science8,0804,1126251,16213,979
Hospitality & Tourism64---64
Human Services1,5841,4478951244,050
Information Technology9852,178--3,163
Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security1,64772-4702,189
Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics252,308103222,458
Transportation, Distribution & Logistic5,305384--5,689
Grand Total26,17536,2573,3663,33769,135

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, SCDEW, Occupational Employment Projections Program, 2016-2026



Figure 20: South Carolina Postsecondary Education Gap by Career Cluster, 2015-2016

Career ClusterLess than 4 YearsBachelor’s DegreeMaster’s DegreeDoctoral or Professional DegreeTotal
Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources1111044022277
Architecture & Construction60-1,392575-1,270
Arts, Audio/Video Technology & Communications-4031,285148301,060
Business Management & Administration-1,188-4,9741,23610-4,916
Education & Training2,384-2,261212-1,421-1,086
Government & Public Administration10105538176
Health Science-1,563-1,873130-216-3,522
Hospitality & Tourism3674892616898
Human Services655696-209-671,075
Information Technology-73-1,43511917-1,372
Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security-98170460-134-351
Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics633,7857802854,913
Transportation, Distribution & Logistic-4,306-368110-4,663
Grand Total-3,479-9,1132,852-1,445-11,185


This analysis indicates there is likely to be a labor shortage in a significant number of occupations requiring higher education. There are over 11,000 more projected openings than local graduates for the year. Only for occupations requiring a master’s degree are there enough local supply of graduates to fill the projected need. Nine of the 16 career clusters are likely to have a supply gap. A few notable findings:

  • In Business Management and Administration, there is a severe shortage at the bachelor’s degree and lower level but an oversupply at the master’s degree level.
  • In Education and Training, there is an oversupply at the less than four-year level and a shortage at the bachelor’s degree level to roughly the same magnitude. Students are taking general or multidisciplinary studies below the bachelor’s degree level, while a myriad of positions have openings at the next level, including many teaching positions. There are numerous openings for postsecondary teachers at the doctorate level as well.
  • In Finance, there are over 2,200 more openings than graduates at the bachelor’s degree level.
  • In Health Science, there is a labor shortage at the lower half of the educational spectrum. Most of the openings below the bachelor’s degree are for assistants and technicians, while three-fourths of the openings for bachelor’s degree are for registered nurses. With the growing demand for health care workers due to demographic shifts, this shortage may worsen in the coming years.
  • In Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics, there is a severe shortage below the bachelor’s degree level with 70 percent of the openings being for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers.

Note that this analysis does not consider the flow of additional graduates from other states who move to South Carolina nor graduates of this state that move elsewhere post-graduation.



With the state unemployment rate reaching historically low levels, there are fewer and fewer individuals available to take newly created jobs or to fill positions vacated by retiring workers. This presents both a challenge and opportunity for the state. Many individuals who remain unemployed or out of the labor force face varying challenges and barriers that may need more specific or dedicated services to meet their employment and training needs. The state is pursuing effective programs to tackle the broad spectrum of needs as a result of these barriers and will continue to develop more effective programs in partnership with businesses, community-based organizations and non-profits.

Juvenile Offenders

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2016-17, the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) handled 13,591 new cases, down from 15,429 in 2015-2016. The top five offenses putting a person into DJJ custody are assault and battery, shoplifting, public disorderly conduct, simple marijuana possession and disturbing school.

DJJ’s Career Readiness Center (CRC) had a total enrollment of 1,423 for its training classes in FY 2016-17.Students at JRTC took classes in financial literacy, culinary arts, leadership, interviewing skills, public speaking, interpersonal skills, and in many other areas related to life skills and job placement. During FY 2016-17, 901 youth completed job-readiness training in DJJ’s 16 community job-readiness training sites, located throughout the state. DJJ doubled its number of training sites from the previous fiscal year and nearly doubled the number of participants.[2]


South Carolina’s homeless population was estimated at 3,082 people in 2018, including 415 veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The total number of homeless increased 0.4 percent from 2017 but is down 12.1 percent compared to 2010. For 2018, eight out of every 10,000 SC residents experienced homelessness.[3]

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the first step in supporting the homeless population is to get them into housing. The Alliance suggests rapid rehousing because, “By connecting people with a home, they are in a better position to address other challenges that may have led to their homelessness, such as obtaining employment or addressing substance abuse issues.”[4]


According to the 2017 American Community Survey, South Carolina had 362,000 civilian veterans aged 18 or older, comprising 9.3 percent of the state’s civilian adult population. Veterans had a higher percentage having some college education or an associate’s degree compared to the population aged 25 and older as a whole (37.7 percent for veterans, 29.8 percent for all). Veterans had a lower unemployment rate at 4.5 percent than the civilian population aged 18 to 64 (5.7 percent).[5]

Veterans may have to overcome stereotypes employers may have such as thinking that all post-9/11 veterans have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, veterans have a great deal to contribute to any company. Many veterans have job skills that transfer directly to the civilian world, such as integrity, attention to detail, leadership, problem solving, and a team-player mentality.


As of June 30, 2018, South Carolina had an inmate population of 18,958. For the FY 2018 (July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018), the S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC) had 8,585 total releases from its base population. The average age of an inmate was 38.5 years old. African-Americans made up 60 percent of the total with whites at 37 percent and other races at 3 percent. The average sentence length is 14 years. Forty-nine percent of inmates do not have a high school diploma or GED upon incarceration.[6]

The SCDC had numerous individuals reaching achievements in FY 2018, including 324 GED/High School Diplomas earned and 2,333 vocational certificates earned. The SCDC has been authorized as a Department of Labor (DOL) Apprenticeship site, awarding 36 DOL apprenticeship credentials in FY 2018 and 636 WorkKeys certificates.

Beginning July 1, 2018, SCDC, in partnership with the Department of Employment and Workforce, transitioned to the new WIN Learning – Ready to Work certification program. WIN replaced WorkKeys with similar skills assessment (Applied Math, Reading for Information, and Locating Information), while adding a soft skills component that will be of profound benefit to inmates post-release.[7]

People who have been imprisoned face several challenges re-entering society, such as overcoming their past criminal history when seeking employment. Lack of education, poor computer skills, poor people skills, low self-esteem, substance abuse problems, and access to reliable transportation are problems that may be faced by an ex-offender during the job search.


In 2017, South Carolina had an estimated 752,000 people living below the poverty level or 15.4 percent of the population for whom poverty status is determined. Of this group, nearly 170,000 were employed, and 44,000 were unemployed.[8] Government and educational assistance can help many in this population raise their income to sustaining levels.

Individuals with Disabilities

The diversity of disabilities ranges from those seen such as necessitating the use of a wheelchair or cane, to those unseen, invisible disabilities such as mental illness or substance use disorders. Although many innovative programs and collaborative efforts are in place in South Carolina to expand competitive, integrated employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities, data shows that a continued focus on increasing rates of employment and labor force participation is necessary.

Estimates from the American Community Survey in 2017 show that 14.8 percent of the state’s civilian, non-institutionalized population was disabled.[9] The disabled employed equaled nearly 123,000 people aged 18 to 64. Nearly 18,600 more people were unemployed, yielding a disabled unemployment rate of 13.2 percent, substantially in excess of the state’s average unemployment levels. Ambulatory difficulty was the most common disability for both those employed and those not in the labor force, while a cognitive difficulty was reported as the most common disability for those who were unemployed.[10] Therefore, this group will continue to need focused services to overcome substantial barriers to employment.


A recent 2017 study analyzed the effects of rising post-secondary education costs in comparison to the levels of debt that South Carolinians are taking on and determined the employment outcomes of recent college graduates. Two cohorts of South Carolina college graduates were studied to determine: (1) the percentage of students found working in the state one and five years post-graduation, (2) their annual earnings, (3) their median earnings one and five years post-graduation, and (4) their industry of employment one and five years post-graduation.

Major findings of that report showed:

  • 64.9 percent of South Carolina college graduates from FY2009-10 were employed one-year post-graduation, and 50.0 percent were employed five years post-graduation
  • Women, African-Americans, in-state students, and those pursuing less than a bachelor’s degree were more likely to be found in wage records in S.C. one and five years post-graduation. Students majoring in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM) fields were the least likely to be found in wages records post-graduation.
  • Retention rates were higher for students that are native to South Carolina (78.6 percent) than those from out-of-state (50.2 percent).
  • STEM graduates had the fastest median annual wage growth (9.6 percent) one to five years post-graduation; Trades was second (8.2 percent); and third was Business and Communication (8.1 percent).
  • The college majors associated with South Carolina’s Talent Pipeline Initiative[11] showed either above average wages ($35,238) one-year post-graduation or higher than average wage growth (6.3 percent per year) between the first and fifth years. Many of the fields of study funded through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) will likely have similar wage outcomes.


South Carolina has experienced very strong economic growth since emerging from the effects of the Great Recession in 2010. The state’s unemployment rate remains below that of the national average and strong wage growth is helping to buoy both the housing market and tourism industries, both important sectors for the state.

The state is now in a position of having to contend with slowing growth not due to a lack of demand but due to a lack of additional workers able to take jobs in expanding businesses. In addition to the perennial concerns of finding skilled workers, many businesses are now reporting trouble finding and retaining any type of worker.  This brings about a new set of challenges on how to engage with individuals who may have previously left the workforce or those in the labor force with barriers to employment.

South Carolina must work to ensure an ability of the workforce to meet the demands of both current and future job opportunities at all education and skill levels. The state also has an opportunity to continue to expand work in rural areas where there may be additional supply of workers and whose local areas have not reached the same level of income or employment growth as those of the metropolitan regions.

[1] First estimate assumes a household with one adult working with two children; the second estimate assumes a household with two adults working with two children.

[2] South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice, 2017 Report Card, http://www.state.sc.us/djj/pdfs/2017%20Report%20Card_5.5x8.5.pdf

[3] U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, The 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, page 93

[4] National Alliance to End Homelessness, Rapid Re-Housing, https://endhomelessness.org/ending-homelessness/solutions/rapid-re-housing/, accessed on July 12, 2019

[5] U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2017 1-Year Estimate, Table S2101: Veteran Status

[6] South Carolina Department of Corrections, SCDC FAQs July 2019, http://www.doc.sc.gov/research/SystemOverview/SCDC_FAQs_July_2019.pdf

[7] South Carolina Department of Corrections, Accountability Report Fiscal Year 2018, Page 9, http://www.doc.sc.gov/research/AccountabilityReportFY2018.pdf

[8] U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2017 1-Year Estimate, Table S1701: Poverty Status in the Past 12 Months

[9] U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2017 1-Year Estimate, Table S1810: Disability Characteristics

[10] U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2017 1-Year Estimate, Table S18120: Employment Status by Disability and Type

[11] The five high-demand, high growth sectors of the Talent Pipeline Initiative are Construction, Diversified Manufacturing, Business and Information Technology, Health Care, and Transportation and Logistics.