Cities on the Rise in South Carolina

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Cities on the Rise SC

South Carolina was hit hard by the recession. The state’s unemployment rate shot up to 11.9% as it lost over 40,000 manufacturing jobs from 2007 to 2009. The gross domestic product plummeted 11.5% below the regional average during this time.

But now all signs point to a strong recovery and future growth for South Carolina. The state is seeing a population influx from the Midwest, and its low tax rates are helping lure residents who commute to North Carolina’s Charlotte metro area. The state doesn’t have property, wholesale or local income taxes, and with a cost of living that is 14% lower than the national average, the population has grown 4% from 2009 to 2012. Today, South Carolina’s unemployment rate of 5.3% is even lower than it was before the recession, and the state appears to be on track to maintain its growing economy.

Although the entire state is showing signs of growth, some areas in South Carolina have fared better than others. NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find the cities on the rise in South Carolina. Our analysis focused on:

1. Population growth. We measured growth in the working-age population from 2009 to 2012.
2. Employment growth. We evaluated growth in the percentage of employed residents from 2009 to 2012.
3. Income growth. We calculated growth in the median income for full-time, year-round workers from 2009 to 2012.

For more on our methodology, please check the end of the report.

In researching South Carolina, certain trends emerged. Here’s what our top places had in common:

  • Industries are moving to South Carolina. The state’s low corporate tax rate is paying off as many cities on our list welcomed large multinational corporations to their area.
  • Commuters will cross state lines. Residents who commute across state lines to Georgia and North Carolina demonstrate South Carolina’s strength as a low-tax haven.
  • South Carolina is getting younger and wealthier. While employment growth was moderate for many of our top cities, the growth of median income and working-age populations were often in the high double digits.
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NerdWallet crunched the data for 91 communities in South Carolina with populations of 5,000 or more. To see full data set, click here.

Does the data tell the truth? Let us know what you think the comments section below.

1. Lake Wylie

Beachfront property and low taxes are just two reasons why folks are flocking to Lake Wylie. Increasingly, commuters who drive across the North Carolina border to Charlotte are finding a peaceful place to call home at Lake Wylie, where a gallon of gas is about 20 cents cheaper and there aren’t any city or estate taxes. On the strength of its location and quality of life, Lake Wylie claimed the top spot for not just one, but two of our growth metrics: working-age population increase and median income growth.

2. Tega Cay

Tega Cay’s population is exploding: The city saw its working-age population grow 61.9% from 2009 to 2012. Like Lake Wylie, Tega Cay benefits from low taxes and its location for workers who commute to Charlotte. Residents also find top-rated schools and waterfront properties. With the 10th highest employment rate in the state and median income growth of 17.43%, it’s no surprise that Tega Cay plans to invest more than $80 million in developing up to four new communities.

3. Hanahan

By air, land or sea, Hanahan is a city where the economy is taking off. Three years ago, Boeing unveiled a new 1.2-million-square foot Dreamliner assembly plant in neighboring Charleston, which has given a major boost to Hanahan’s economy.  While nearly half of residents commute to Charleston County, Hanahan has a thriving business sector of its own, with technology firms such as GeoLogics, Integris Logistics and Nanoscreen. Others major employers include a FedEx Ground distribution center or the nearby Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, which completed a $9.5 million data center in 2011.

4. Sumter

Sumter residents don’t have to travel far to find work. In addition to major employers such as Tuomey Healthcare System and Shaw Air Force Base, the city is home to over 43 national and international companies. Sumter, which has worked hard to make the transition from its agricultural roots, now touts five industrial parks. The city’s efforts are paying off as the employment rate jumped 6.7%, and the median income increased 16% from 2009 to 2012.

5. Clinton

With its large manufacturing base, Clinton was one of the cities hit hard by the Great Recession. However, the region’s manufacturing jobs have returned and Clinton now leads South Carolina with its 24.13% employment growth. While Clinton is home to a range of companies, many residents work at plastics manufacturer Sterilite and Avery Dennison, an adhesive production company. The accreditation of Presbyterian College’s School of Pharmacy has helped to boost the city’s downtown economy, according to county chamber of commerce officials.

6. Florence

Florence is a city where business has a long history and strong future. Originally a railroad junction Florence continues to benefit from its location along three major highways. In the past few years it welcomed a Monster® customer service center, and soon it will be the new home of a Ruiz Foods packaging plant that will employ 500 workers. Major employers in Florence range from companies such as Nan Ya Plastics to GE Healthcare.

7. Bluffton

The future looks bright for Bluffton. The town weathered the recession by reinvesting in its historic downtown district, and since 2009, has seen its working-age population increase by more than 29.64%. According to the deputy town manager, one of Bluffton’s draws is its proximity to natural areas like May River and Hilton Head, as well the employment opportunities in Savannah, Georgia. The town has added over 900 single-family homes in the past several years, and issued 400 building permits in 2013 alone.

8. Lexington

Growth is the norm, not the exception in Lexington. The city’s population has increased steadily over 20 years, supported in the past decade by a steady stream of housing developments: Lexington Heights, Wellesley and Cherokee Village. Lexington County has had the lowest unemployment rate in the state for the past five years, and the unemployment rate was a full 5% below the state average in 2009, South Carolina’s worst year. Signs point to continued growth as more people move to Lexington for the quality schools and proximity to Columbia.

9. Clemson

While the college town of Clemson is famous for its Tigers, it also deserves attention for its strong economy. From 2009 to 2012, Clemson saw an impressive 14.31% increase in median income. On the strength of its three universities and a manufacturing sector lead by Michelin and BMW that employees over 1,000 people, Clemson has sustained economic growth over the past several years.

10. Moncks Corner

This town near Charleston has recently experienced rapid population growth, which chamber of commerce officials say is likely due to its “quaint, quality and affordable lifestyles, with many big-city conveniences within arms reach.” The supply of housing in Berkeley County has increased 34.1% in the past decade, and this has been a boon for Moncks Corner. Town leaders believe in growth that preserves the area’s natural beauty, and are hoping to be the location for the new Berkeley Medical Center.

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City 2012 Working Age Population 2009-2012 Working Age Population Growth 2012 Percentage of Labor Force Employed 2009-2012 Employment Percentage Growth 2012 Median Income 2009-2012 Median Income Growth Overall Growth Score
1 Lake Wylie 6,820 65.78% 62.20% -0.48% 61,159 45.62% 80.71
2 Tega Cay 5,586 61.91% 63.20% -10.10% 79,268 17.43% 57.79
3 Hanahan 13,747 19.23% 62.80% 1.29% 40,797 26.15% 53.31
4 Sumter 31,446 4.59% 47.60% 6.73% 34,495 15.97% 46.50
5 Clinton 6,722 -10.25% 45.00% 24.31% 28,082 0.04% 46.24
6 Florence 29,015 14.49% 57.60% 2.31% 40,393 13.14% 45.76
7 Bluffton 9,216 29.64% 68.10% -5.81% 43,783 13.04% 45.65
8 Lexington 14,008 24.03% 60.70% -1.62% 49,222 8.63% 44.43
9 Clemson 12,148 10.46% 51.20% 1.79% 47,342 14.31% 44.26
10 Moncks Corner 6,223 14.92% 54.10% 9.74% 35,297 -5.50% 42.57
11 Beaufort 9,807 -0.71% 49.20% -0.20% 44,813 21.80% 41.78
12 Seneca 6,543 6.84% 51.70% -4.08% 40,625 21.52% 41.74
13 Hartsville 6,303 12.11% 44.30% -14.64% 42,083 32.76% 41.22
14 Union 6,617 1.96% 44.30% 0.00% 33,709 17.85% 41.10
15 Boiling Springs 6,457 22.71% 68.00% 0.89% 40,945 -2.33% 40.46
16 Greenville 48,385 -1.03% 59.50% 0.85% 41,631 17.65% 40.43
17 Five Forks 10,034 18.19% 66.20% -6.10% 78,136 12.02% 40.19
18 Red Hill 11,837 16.89% 56.30% -4.41% 35,568 9.50% 39.73
19 Marion 5,126 0.91% 42.80% -1.61% 31,295 17.98% 39.48
20 Fort Mill 8,125 12.07% 65.10% 0.15% 50,367 5.58% 39.37

Methodology

 The overall score for each city was derived from these measures:

  1. Population growth from 2009 to 2012 made up 33.3% of the total score. Data for the working-age population (16+) comes from the 2012 U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year estimate for all places in the state, Table DP03.
  2. Employment growth from 2009 to 2012 made up 33.3% of the total score. Data for the percent of employed residents comes from the 2012 U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year estimate for all places in the state, Table DP03.
  3. Income growth from 2009 to 2012 made up 33.3% of the total score.  Data for the median earnings for workers comes from the 2012 U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year estimate for all places in the state, Table DP03.

We evaluated 91 communities in South Carolina with populations of 5,000 or more. Certain places were omitted due to inconsistent data reporting.

 

Cities on the Rise South Carolina (Full Rankings)

City 2012 Working Age Population 2009-2012 Working Age Population Growth 2012 Percentage of Labor Force Employed 2009-2012 Employment Percentage Growth 2012 Median Income 2009-2012 Median Income Growth Overall Growth Score
1 Lake Wylie 6,820 65.78% 62.20% -0.48% 61,159 45.62% 80.71
2 Tega Cay 5,586 61.91% 63.20% -10.10% 79,268 17.43% 57.79
3 Hanahan 13,747 19.23% 62.80% 1.29% 40,797 26.15% 53.31
4 Sumter 31,446 4.59% 47.60% 6.73% 34,495 15.97% 46.50
5 Clinton 6,722 -10.25% 45.00% 24.31% 28,082 0.04% 46.24
6 Florence 29,015 14.49% 57.60% 2.31% 40,393 13.14% 45.76
7 Bluffton 9,216 29.64% 68.10% -5.81% 43,783 13.04% 45.65
8 Lexington 14,008 24.03% 60.70% -1.62% 49,222 8.63% 44.43
9 Clemson 12,148 10.46% 51.20% 1.79% 47,342 14.31% 44.26
10 Moncks Corner 6,223 14.92% 54.10% 9.74% 35,297 -5.50% 42.57
11 Beaufort 9,807 -0.71% 49.20% -0.20% 44,813 21.80% 41.78
12 Seneca 6,543 6.84% 51.70% -4.08% 40,625 21.52% 41.74
13 Hartsville 6,303 12.11% 44.30% -14.64% 42,083 32.76% 41.22
14 Union 6,617 1.96% 44.30% 0.00% 33,709 17.85% 41.10
15 Boiling Springs 6,457 22.71% 68.00% 0.89% 40,945 -2.33% 40.46
16 Greenville 48,385 -1.03% 59.50% 0.85% 41,631 17.65% 40.43
17 Five Forks 10,034 18.19% 66.20% -6.10% 78,136 12.02% 40.19
18 Red Hill 11,837 16.89% 56.30% -4.41% 35,568 9.50% 39.73
19 Marion 5,126 0.91% 42.80% -1.61% 31,295 17.98% 39.48
20 Fort Mill 8,125 12.07% 65.10% 0.15% 50,367 5.58% 39.37
21 Hilton Head Island 32,278 9.39% 52.00% 2.16% 42,326 3.71% 38.91
22 Wade Hampton 16,441 -1.69% 58.30% -1.02% 41,379 17.96% 38.85
23 Clover 3,613 7.88% 56.40% -11.32% 36,321 25.91% 38.70
24 Lugoff 5,783 12.07% 56.50% -1.91% 41,833 6.61% 38.28
25 Socastee 15,422 16.19% 60.60% -4.87% 30,977 6.13% 37.44
26 Little River 8,639 24.79% 52.60% -3.13% 33,846 -4.05% 37.34
27 Parker 9,025 23.12% 45.50% -1.52% 28,675 -5.27% 37.31
28 Valley Falls 4,951 18.22% 54.40% -2.68% 33,714 0.43% 37.18
29 Clearwater 3,837 12.69% 48.10% 0.84% 35,752 -0.87% 36.99
30 Laurel Bay 3,789 13.48% 40.30% -1.23% 32,938 1.57% 36.91
31 Charleston 100,611 9.31% 61.00% -2.24% 42,632 6.46% 36.80
32 North Charleston 75,063 4.35% 56.50% 0.89% 32,027 5.44% 36.69
33 Greer 19,657 8.54% 60.50% -0.82% 40,573 3.92% 36.35
34 Woodfield 8,214 11.48% 60.40% 1.00% 27,726 -1.68% 36.23
35 Cheraw 4,533 14.24% 40.20% -4.74% 33,000 4.93% 36.14
36 Orangeburg 11,450 1.77% 44.10% 2.56% 31,639 2.48% 35.47
37 Gantt 10,160 -3.39% 52.80% 0.76% 30,625 9.58% 35.43
38 West Columbia 13,142 13.21% 58.90% -4.69% 32,759 3.85% 35.22
39 Newberry 8,080 -4.77% 51.90% 0.39% 31,317 10.47% 35.00
40 Goose Creek 28,032 3.73% 55.10% -7.08% 42,445 14.18% 34.52
41 Mount Pleasant 52,546 7.54% 65.20% -3.12% 53,559 4.12% 34.24
42 Summerville 32,800 0.81% 58.80% -2.49% 42,769 8.72% 34.21
43 Columbia 110,455 3.46% 49.10% 0.00% 38,582 2.12% 34.00
44 Seven Oaks 12,879 6.73% 62.20% -2.35% 39,161 2.86% 33.88
45 Cayce 10,704 0.58% 60.90% 0.50% 35,550 3.03% 33.64
46 Conway 14,111 23.92% 50.30% -10.18% 31,619 -0.47% 33.26
47 Rock Hill 51,892 2.57% 61.10% -1.45% 35,879 3.64% 33.25
48 Murrells Inlet 6,807 0.27% 50.90% -8.62% 40,138 16.46% 33.01
49 Red Bank 7,162 -1.67% 64.30% -5.86% 39,888 13.71% 33.01
50 Mauldin 17,800 11.01% 64.00% -9.09% 44,822 7.12% 32.50
51 Dentsville 11,090 3.03% 60.30% -1.47% 32,388 0.81% 32.04
52 Port Royal 9,116 1.32% 33.20% -4.32% 33,154 6.33% 31.82
53 North Augusta 16,898 10.39% 56.20% -8.77% 44,464 5.56% 31.73
54 Oak Grove 8,135 9.19% 66.80% -4.30% 37,237 -0.60% 31.69
55 Lancaster 6,383 -14.96% 46.00% 6.73% 30,645 1.96% 31.56
56 Camden 5,378 -2.71% 53.00% -2.93% 43,875 5.78% 30.97
57 Simpsonville 14,565 12.32% 62.50% -5.73% 38,755 -2.91% 30.73
58 Gaffney 10,289 -3.37% 44.90% 4.42% 28,750 -6.67% 30.30
59 Lake City 5,086 5.50% 37.00% -7.96% 30,005 5.17% 30.15
60 Belvedere 4,067 -8.52% 51.40% -1.34% 35,957 6.18% 30.00
61 Berea 10,471 -1.50% 51.10% -5.55% 29,840 5.39% 29.24
62 Forest Acres 8,582 8.52% 57.40% -6.67% 47,256 -1.98% 28.89
63 Spartanburg 29,941 -3.98% 50.90% -2.68% 35,810 2.17% 28.87
64 Easley 15,857 0.48% 55.90% -7.30% 37,454 5.34% 28.67
65 Greenwood 17,737 1.53% 46.70% -10.36% 31,304 8.72% 28.38
66 Fountain Inn 5,574 4.25% 60.50% -10.24% 32,686 6.16% 28.34
67 Taylors 17,404 8.23% 63.10% -7.21% 36,397 -2.13% 28.27
68 Central 4,739 34.25% 60.40% -8.62% 21,875 -22.29% 28.02
69 Welcome 5,461 -9.75% 48.50% 2.54% 26,354 -3.21% 27.90
70 Darlington 4,934 -2.39% 49.00% -6.84% 35,644 5.30% 27.82
71 Anderson 21,404 -1.48% 50.10% 0.80% 30,720 -7.73% 27.75
72 Sans Souci 5,851 -12.48% 53.50% -8.70% 33,017 16.04% 27.48
73 York 5,812 -0.15% 48.60% -7.95% 29,010 4.06% 27.27
74 Irmo 8,901 1.98% 67.50% -7.02% 40,232 0.23% 27.00
75 North Myrtle Beach 12,686 -8.94% 49.30% 0.82% 36,913 -3.24% 26.89
76 Aiken 24,571 3.23% 49.20% -6.11% 47,946 -2.95% 26.66
77 Centerville 5,225 12.03% 59.80% -11.41% 35,817 -2.50% 26.39
78 Laurens 7,578 -1.10% 48.70% -6.53% 31,477 -0.38% 25.81
79 St. Andrews 15,723 -6.78% 65.90% -10.46% 32,819 9.89% 25.45
80 Myrtle Beach 22,405 -8.21% 58.30% -4.74% 30,865 0.06% 24.48
81 George 7,033 15.94% 43.60% -16.79% 30,060 -1.31% 24.40
82 Burton 4,856 -4.35% 54.20% -15.31% 35,071 12.78% 24.09
83 Ladson 10,703 -3.07% 57.70% -9.28% 33,226 -0.34% 22.88
84 Dillon 5,109 8.89% 42.40% -17.03% 30,389 0.25% 22.07
85 Homeland Park 5,218 10.11% 43.20% -17.56% 27,127 -0.78% 21.66
86 Garden City 7,689 -1.35% 41.70% -12.03% 33,352 -1.11% 21.07
87 Walterboro 3,978 -9.10% 40.40% -10.02% 32,935 -6.65% 16.71
88 Abbeville 4,094 -4.79% 37.40% -18.52% 32,611 1.88% 16.06
89 Chester 4,524 -7.67% 35.80% -16.94% 30,156 -2.13% 14.14
90 Batesburg-Leesville 3,810 -14.11% 47.40% -10.57% 27,248 -7.77% 13.67

Greenville, South Carolina,via Shutterstock.