South Carolina continues to post strong employment gains, with the Charleston region outperforming statewide measures, particularly in job growth in the hospitality and tourism sector.
About 4,900 of the 7,000 hospitality and tourism jobs added in South Carolina in the last year — or about 70 percent — were in the Charleston area, according to job data released Friday by the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.
Employment opportunities in that category increased by 10 percent in the last year.
The category trails manufacturing and trade and transportation and utilities, which added 9,000 and 8,400 jobs, respectively, over the last year.
The Charleston region added 8,400 jobs overall since July 2018, and 33,200 were added across the state. That means that while the area makes up around 16 percent of the state's population, it's accounted for more than a quarter of the job growth in the last year.
The Charleston area's most recent employment growth rate, 2.3 percent, was "significantly higher" than the statewide and national rates, which are both 1.5 percent, said Laura Ullrich, a regional economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
The year has already been one of striking expansion for the Charleston region's health care industry.
Overall, Ullrich said the July report showed "continued strength" in the state's job market.
Almost 60,000 of the individuals who entered the U.S. workforce since July 2018 are in South Carolina, representing more than 5 percent of U.S. growth while the state's residents make up less than 2 percent of the nation's labor force.
Unemployment dipped back down to 3.4 percent last month after holding at 3.5 percent in May and June. The jobless rate in the state has consistently been lower than the national average, which was 3.7 percent last month.
Joblessness is also less prevalent in the Palmetto State than in neighbors Georgia and North Carolina, where unemployment is 3.6 percent and 4.2 percent.
Every job sector in the state has seen a net gain in jobs over the last year, except for construction. Though the industry seemed to bounce back in June with the addition of 1,300 new jobs — accounting for more than half the statewide job gains that month — construction job numbers dropped sharply again in July.
A total of 1,500 construction jobs were lost in South Carolina from June to July, the largest monthly drop from any sector. In the last year, the industry has had a net loss of 2,800 jobs.
As joblessness remains low, South Carolina employers have continued to express concern about finding and hiring talent.
A monthly survey of business conditions from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond found that June's index indicating the availability of skilled workers in the Carolinas was the lowest on record.
Another Federal Reserve report said that a Charleston hotel which opened earlier this year wasn't able to use all of its rooms because of an “inability to find staff."