Why is Myrtle Beach leading the state in job growth?

There are more jobs in South Carolina than ever before, and cities in Horry County are reaping the benefits.

Since last year, South Carolina’s labor force has grown by more than 27,000, and during November the state added 7,900 non-farm jobs with most of them coming in the areas of manufacturing and professional and business services, according to numbers released by the state on Friday.

The gains resulted in record employment in South Carolina of 2,113,600 this November.

Between November of 2016 and 2017, the Myrtle Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area – which includes Myrtle Beach, Conway, North Myrtle Beach and other surrounding areas – made the biggest job gains of all metro areas, adding 5,300 jobs, resulting in 3.29-percent growth. It outpaced the state-wide average of 2.17-percent growth.

The Spartanburg and Charleston metro areas tied for second place, with both areas experiencing 2.09-percent job growth since last year.

But manufacturing doesn’t account for growth in Myrtle Beach.

“The game in Myrtle Beach would be in the tourism industry, higher education, health care and real estate-related type jobs,” said Coastal Carolina University economist Dan Salvino.

Why did Myrtle beach outpace the state? Population growth.

“Myrtle Beach is one of the fastest population growing areas in the country,” said Salvino, adding that the region sees a lot of residents moving here from the Northeast.

Unemployment in Horry County is down from last year as well, from 4.9 percent to 4.7 percent, but it’s higher than the statewide average of 4 percent.

“With unemployment you have to be careful because we’re a very high tourism industry destination,” Salvino said, citing seasonal work that changes the area’s unemployment numbers. “In the summer we have our lowest unemployment rates and in the winter we have the highest unemployment rates.”

Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean said the chamber expected good job numbers, but that “we didn’t expect it to be as positive as it was.”

In the past, the area has experienced growth in either the tourism industry or in real estate, he said. But now it’s experiencing growth in both areas at the same time.

“As the number of visitors increase, many of them like the area so much they decide to invest and that fuels commercial and real estate construction,” he said. “The Grand Strand is not only a fast-growing economy but also a year-round economy.”

Christian Boschult: 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian