The 2017 Regional Economic Scorecard gives mixed grades for Charleston metro area in its latest economic report card. The biggest challenge for the region’s growing economy is to create affordable housing near jobs. The area is becoming more congested with traffic since most workers cannot find housing near their jobs. The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce and Charleston Regional Development Alliance released the economic report at the end of 2017. It measured Charleston’s economic health compared to the national averages of eight other cities with similar sizes. The report has been conducted every year since 2005.
Economic Report for Charleston
The chamber’s chief strategy officer, Mary Graham, told the Post & Courier, “The good news is that the economy here is very strong.” The problem is that traffic congestion is the “number one issue here,” Graham said. “We’re a region of commuters. People can’t afford to live near where they work, so we all get in our cars every day and drive to and from work and that is making the traffic issue worse.”
The report gave some good economic news compared to 10 years ago:
- A rising gross regional product (GRP) per capita of 30.1 percent. This is close to the national average of 30.2 percent growth;
- An increase in exports as a percent of GRP of 12 percent;
- A ranking of 20 percent nationally for employment in advanced industries that are STEM-intensive occupations; and
- A 36 percent increase in annual pay, with an average salary of $46,089 in Charleston. The area ranks below the national average of $53,611.
How Charleston Compares
The report compared Charleston to eight other cities, including Seattle, Austin, Raleigh, Richmond, Salt Lake City, Jacksonville, Nashville and Greenville.
It also evaluated worker training for all industries moving into the area, including high-tech companies. The report stated that there has been some progress:
- The number of engineers in the area has grown by 62 percent in the last five years, double the increase in growth nationally; and
- The number of individuals in Charleston with degrees in science and computers has increased by 198 percent during the five-year time period, six times faster than the national average.
Steve Warner vice president for global competitiveness with Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA) told the Post & Courier he regularly talks to representatives from foreign tech companies interested in locating here. “It’s usually a 10 to 20 year story and we’re only five years into it as far shaving any significant investment and resources.” The complete report is on the alliance’s website at crda.org/economicscorecard.
Source: Post & Courier, “Mixed grades for latest economic report card,” by Dave Munday, December 8, 2017
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