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THE ONE TO WATCH: Where jobs are concentrating in SC

Downtown greenville business.jpg (copy)

The skyline in Greenville, S.C. A new report found that while job density decreased in Columbia and barely increased in Charleston, the increase in jobs per square mile exceeded expectations in Greenville. File/Grace Beahm Alford/ Staff

Job density — the degree to which jobs are concentrating in a certain area — is increasing in the largest metro areas in the U.S., but that increase isn't happening equally, and it isn't happening everywhere, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution

In the Carolinas, the data shows a mix. While jobs have sprawled more in Charleston and Columbia, they've clustered closer in Greenville and Charlotte

According to the report, job density in the U.S. overall increased by 30%, but that growth — about 90% of it — was driven by just four metro areas: New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle. Just half of the 94 metro areas studied saw density increase, while the others saw jobs sprawl. 

In the southeast, Charlotte stood out as the strongest example of job density increases. There, jobs per square mile increased by 44% to around 8,000, meaning jobs were being added to already dense parts of the metro area. 

In contrast, job density in Charleston increased very little. The number of jobs per square mile went up by just 2.5% from 2004 to 2015. The expected increase — the increase that would have occurred if the jobs were added where others already existed — was notably higher, about 23%. 

That doesn't mean job growth in the Charleston metro area wasn't happening during that period. (It was, and still is.) It means the new employment opportunities here were spreading farther out geographically, beyond the peninsula's urban core and farther throughout the tri-county area. 

That trend happened to a greater effect in Columbia, where job density actually decreased, by about 13%. Greenville, however, saw job density growth that outpaced what was expected, almost 24%. Between the three metro areas, Greenville still has the lowest number of jobs per square mile, but has moved most strongly toward having a higher density job landscape. 

So, why does job density matter? The report's authors say that supporting high density areas allows cities to increase productivity while reducing fiscal stress. Sprawl, they argue, can be more costly and less efficient. 

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  • Boeing Co. has broken its sales drought with a $6.3 billion deal to add 30 787 Dreamliners to Korean Air's Seoul-based fleet. (Post and Courier)
  • Famed pilot “Sully” Sullenberger criticized Boeing during a congressional hearing Wednesday for shortcomings in its 737 Max training program. (AP)
  • The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged but says it will "closely monitor" the economy in light of growing "uncertainties." (Market Watch)
  • The Charleston Digital Corridor will be allowed to manage a portion of the newest WestEdge building, per a City Council vote. (Post and Courier)
  • An office building with retail space and a five-story parking deck is in the works for an upper peninsula lot on Morrison Drive. (Post and Courier)


"Hey boss, did you know it takes an average of 16 years to save enough money for a 20% down payment on a home in Columbia?"

Columbia was among the more affordable U.S. cities for housing featured in a new study, but some buyers are struggling to find entry-level homes there. In Charleston, where the average monthly home payment is $1,451, it takes about 18 years to save and, in North Charleston, 14. 


  • Mike Devlin joined TD Bank as a senior manager for the south coast area.
  • Brian Neal joined Samet Corp. as a pre-construction project executive. 
  • Friend Gray was promoted to vice president at Holder Properties
  • The president of Charleston Radiologists is now Jon Carmain
  • Pet Helpers has promoted Melissa Susko to executive director. 

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Reach Emily Williams at 843-937-5553. Follow her on Twitter @emilye_williams.

Emily Williams is a business reporter at The Post and Courier, covering tourism and employment. She also writes the Business Headlines newsletter, which is published twice a week. Before moving to Charleston, her byline appeared in The Boston Globe.