High-paying jobs that require more than a high school education will continue to be in high demand in South Carolina and the Upstate through 2023 and beyond, employment experts say.
Even jobs that don't require extensive training or education – such as restaurant cooks, bartenders, cashiers, manual laborers and customer service representatives – will also still be in high demand.
In other words, if you want a job, you can get one.
"I do not anticipate a slide downward in terms of demand," said Johnnie-Lynn Crosby, regional director of business solutions for SC Works Greater Upstate. "All projections point to continued growth and opportunity for those interested in working."
Spartanburg: A record year
In Spartanburg County, 2022 has been a banner year, no signs of letting up in 2023, according to County Councilman David Britt, chairman of the county's economic development committee.
Through Nov. 21, a total of 2,042 new jobs have been proposed this year by existing and new companies seeking tax breaks, Britt said. The total investment announced by companies this year through November is $3.83 billion.
"That is by far the biggest record we have ever had in the history of Spartanburg," Britt said. "We've recruited $10.7 million (of capital investment) every day, and the year's not over. The reason we do it – for hope and opportunity. That's the bottom line.
"Looking ahead, what is really mattering right now is people. That's our number one infrastructure need, not roads or bridges, it's people – sending the message that Spartanburg is a great place to live, work and play."
One of the biggest job announcements this year came from BMW, which has called Spartanburg its home for North American car manufacturing since 1994. Today, BMW's Spartanburg plant has an estimated 12,000 employees.
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In October, BMW announced a $1.7 billion investment to begin building all-electric vehicles for the U.S. and world markets.
The investment includes $1 billion to produce electric vehicles at the Spartanburg plant and $700 million to build a 1 million-square-foot high-voltage battery assembly plant in Woodruff with 300 new jobs.
"The $1.7 billion capital investment is the largest in the history of South Carolina," Gov. Henry McMaster said at BMW's announcement.
Among the latest companies to join the local jobs parade is Visual Comfort & Company, a manufacturer of designer lighting and ceiling fans.
In early November, Visual Comfort announced it will establish distribution operations in Spartanburg County starting in January 2023. The project will result in a $62 million investment and create 125 jobs over the next five years, according to the office of Gov. Henry McMaster.
Job gains in Greenville, Anderson counties
The entire Upstate has enjoyed job growth in 2022. Bosch in Anderson County and Diversified Medical Healthcare in Greenville County are just a couple of examples.
In August, Bosch, a leading global supplier of technology and services, announced plans to expand operations in Anderson County. The company’s $200 million investment will create 350 new jobs.
In February, Diversified Medical Healthcare announced that it will expand operations in Greenville County and create 185 new jobs under a $51 million investment.
Diversified Medical Healthcare is a holding entity with multiple brands all dedicated to providing solutions to improve patient care.
Kohler layoffs announced
One blemish on the local job scene this year is the announcement of 133 layoffs, starting Dec. 12, and the closing of Kohler Company's vitreous operations in Spartanburg.
Kohlers' plastics and warehouse operations are continuing at the Spartanburg plant, according to Kohler spokesman Todd Weber.
"Kohler Co. has other open positions for which affected associates can apply," Weber said. "Kohler Company continues to drive significant investment in those operations to support future growth in the Spartanburg community," Weber said.
Jobless rate ticks upward
South Carolina's jobless rate continues to be lower than the national average. In October, the statewide rate was 3.3%, compared to 3.7% nationally.
"While ticking up from 3.2% in September, the unemployment rate is still historically low at 3.3%," said Dan Ellzey, executive director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW). "The state is now entering the holiday hiring period. This is a hot time for stores and restaurants as they prepare for the holidays."
In Greenville County, the October jobless rate was 3.0%, up from 2.6% in September; in Anderson County, 3.2%, up from 2.8%; and in Spartanburg County, 3.4%, up from 2.8%.
Health care, information technology fields fuel jobs increase
Statewide, the number of jobs is expected to grow to nearly 2.5 million by 2030, up from 2.2 million in 2020, according to Bryan Grady, labor market information director at DEW.
"There is a wide range of occupations that will fuel this increase," he said. "Many are in the health care sector, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
"Information technology is (also) heavily represented, with jobs like information security analysts and software developers expected to be in high demand, as are other technical professions like supply chain experts, statisticians and market analysts. These sorts of jobs typically require a college degree."
The training required for various professions can be found here.
Inflation fuels fears of slowdown in 2023
If inflation is not brought under control, many economists fear an economic slowdown or recession in 2023, according to Grady. The U.S. rate this year has ranged from 7.7% to 9.1%.
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"Such a slowdown is likely to reduce the level of churn in the labor market toward pre-pandemic levels," he said. "This is due to the actions of the Federal Reserve, increasing interest rates with the goal of returning inflation to the target of 2% a year."
Meanwhile, wages and the number of job openings continue to rise in South Carolina. In addition, average hourly earnings rose from $28.45 in September to $29.11, according to Ellzey.
There are more than 105,000 job openings statewide listed on SC Works Online Services. Jobs that are expected to grow and pay a good wage can be found here.
Manufacturing, marketing analyst jobs in high demand
The hottest jobs with the highest growth rate in Spartanburg and Cherokee counties that require no formal education are industrial machinery mechanics, electrical power line installers and repairers, wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives and plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters, according to DEW.
Hot jobs that require certification or an associate's degree are heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers.
Jobs requiring a bachelor's master's or doctorate degree include industrial engineers, market research analysts and marketing specialists, industrial production managers, management analysts and accountants and auditors.
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In Greenville County, popular jobs requiring no formal education include machine tool setters and operators, sales representatives and first-line supervisors of landscaping, lawn service and groundskeepers.
Those requiring certification or an associate's degree are physical therapist assistants, paralegals and legal assistants, computer user support specialists, and heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers.
Those requiring a bachelor's, master's or doctorate degree include software developers, market research analysts and marketing specialists, logisticians and financial managers.
In Anderson, Oconee and Pickens counties, hot jobs requiring no formal education include manufacturing and wholesale sales representatives, electricians, first-line supervisors of construction trades and industrial machinery mechanics.
Hot jobs requiring certification or an associate's degree include paralegals and legal assistants.
Those requiring a higher degree include mechanical engineers, general and operations managers, and accountants and auditors.
Spartanburg Community College meeting challenge
For jobs that require technical training, Spartanburg Community College has been at the forefront in working with employers to meet their needs, according to SCC spokesman Colton Grace.
"Most employers are coming to us looking for students and graduates interested in industry jobs, such as mechatronics graduates, welders and machinists," he said. "These career paths are already in high demand, and that demand will continue to grow exponentially."
SCC offers 20 different apprenticeship programs as well as a new program called Automotive Manufacturing Partnership Propelling Education and Development, or AMPPED.
The six-week program launches in January and is a result of a partnership with BMW and its network of suppliers to provide the technical skills as well as the soft skills – such as getting to work on time and time management.
"It is hard to make projections for the year ahead, but the pace of job growth and economic investment in Spartanburg County is unlikely to slow down," Grace said.
SC Works offers tuition help, training
Locally, Crosby said manufacturing recruitment remains steady, particularly production and maintenance jobs."Additionally, the logistics industry is hurting for people," she said. "There is an evident demand for more truck drivers and supporting logistical workers.
SC Works provides a link to job listings here.
"Health care also remains steady with increasing demand for more workers, both on the clinical and non-clinical side of the house. Local companies are offering more on-the-job training, waving certain experience and skill requirements than previously."
Crosby said SC Works can help job seekers with tuition and "on-the-job training and learning environments with local companies who want to hire folks now and train them."
Statewide, the jobs with the most advertised job openings include registered nurses, retail salespersons, stockers and order fillers, supervisors of food servers and preparers.
In the Upstate, Greenville and Spartanburg counties ranked among the highest statewide with job openings for construction workers, health care and social service workers, laborers and sales representatives, nurses, medical assistants and receptionists.
Looking ahead through 2030, industries with the highest rate of projected growth include motion picture and sound recording, information services, performing arts and spectator sports, museums and historical sites, warehousing and storage, couriers and messengers, ambulatory health care services, transit and ground passenger transportation, and amusement, gambling and recreation industries.
This article originally appeared on Herald-Journal: Upstate South Carolina job market has plenty of opportunities in 2023