Palmetto State Manufacturing on the Road to Recovery

South Carolina has one of the fastest growing economies in the U.S. and one of the fastest growing manufacturing sectors in the region and nation, according to a recent U.S. Commerce Department, Bureau of Economic Analysis report.

The report ranked South Carolina’s economy as the 12th fastest growing in the nation, coupled with the fastest growing manufacturing Gross Domestic Product on the East Coast.

Employment Trends

Manufacturing in the Palmetto State breaks down into five primary subsectors: Food; Chemical; Plastics and Rubber; Fabricated Metal; and Machinery Manufacturing.

These primary subsectors along with others formed the industry’s estimated 224,533 workers in 2013, the most recent data available.

manufacturing employment

Source: Quarterly Census of Employment & Wage

Though the manufacturing industry has had an extremely rough past decade, as the average employment dropped 7,400 per year, the figures vary largely with the financial well-being of the economy as the number of companies dropped sharply in 2003, 2007, and 2009.

Manufacturing employment has made an extreme turn around, going from decreasing fairly constantly to increasing at a substantial growth rate. According to the Department of Commerce, the manufacturing sector comprised 68 percent of new jobs and 82 percent of capital investment (10,442 jobs and $4.5 billion in investment) in 2013.

Employment Opportunities

If you’re thinking about starting a career in this booming industry sector, check out the top occupations in 2013 and the most requested manufacturing certifications by employers as of June 2014.

Top 10 South Carolina manufacturing occupations in 2013:

  • Team Assemblers
  • First-Line Supervisors of Production and Operating Workers
  • Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers
  • Machinists
  • Helpers–Production Workers
  • Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers
  • Packaging and Filling Machine Operators and Tenders
  • Slaughterers and Meat Packers
  • Textile Knitting and Weaving Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders
  • Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic

Source: Occupational Employment Statistics

Top manufacturing certifications requested by employers in South Carolina as of June 2014:

  • Occupational Safety & Health Administration certification
  • Food safety programs
  • Material Handling Equipment
  • Automotive supply chain quality management certification
  • Forklift certification
  • Certified Welding Inspector
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers certification
  • American Production and Inventory Control Society certification
  • Top Secret Sensitive Clearance
  • First Aid certification

Source: The Conference Board Help Wanted Online® data series Outlook

A longer version of this article originally appeared in Insights, a publication of the S.C. Department and Workforce’s Business Intelligence Department. Read previous Insights articles here.

National #ManufacturingDay

Today is the third annual National Manufacturing Day, an observance to bring attention to the industry and how it contributes to the economy. The day is all about expanding knowledge to people about manufacturing and the many careers available in the industry.

Growth in the manufacturing industry is creating jobs in South Carolina.  In fact, in the past year the Palmetto State has seen manufacturing jobs increase by 6,800. Working in today’s advanced manufacturing industry requires knowledge in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM.

In order to maintain and increase the level of growth in the manufacturing industry in South Carolina, the supply of individuals with the skills and knowledge to do the jobs has to meet the demand for the jobs.

Take a look at the current snap shot of supply and demand.



Whether short or long-term, both the Math and Information Technology pathways are expected to have a shortage of skilled workers.

The numbers also show that in the short term there is a need for engineers and in the long term a need for health science professionals.

In addition to availability and demand, manufacturing jobs have overall higher wages. Higher wages mean a better life for you and economic prosperity for the state as a whole.

So when planning your future, think STEM.

Jobseekers get details, questions answered about Continental’s hiring process

S.C. jobseekers on Thursday learned about Continental Tire in Sumter’s hiring process during two information sessions at the F.E. DuBose Campus of Central Carolina Technical College near Manning.

Recruiters from the company outlined the benefits of working at Continental and discussed the organization’s overall work culture. They also answered questions on a variety of topics ranging from safety and uniforms to the way shifts are organized. About 40 people attended the 10 a.m. session, and another was scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.

Continental employs about 180,000 people globally and has 20 tire plants in the United States. The Sumter plant currently has about 500 employees and plans to hire another 1,000, according to company officials.


Representatives from the SC Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) and ReadySC also were on hand to answer questions about the application and hiring process as those organizations are assisting with recruitment.

After the approximately 45-minute information session with Continental representatives, DEW staff assisted those qualified candidates in completing and submitting online applications. Submitting an application is the first step in the hiring process, which also includes screening through ReadySC, simulation testing and pre-hire training.

Minimum qualifications to work at Continental include a high school diploma or GED and at least one year of manufacturing or production experience.

The company will accept either military experience or the South Carolina Manufacturing Certification (SCMC) in lieu of the one year experience.


The SCMC program is 200 hours and includes classroom and hands-on training in advanced manufacturing skills. It is available at technical colleges throughout the state. Learn more about the program here or at an SC Works center near you.

If you missed one of the information sessions but are still interested in a job with Continental, don’t worry. You can still apply by visiting

If you have recently applied, you can check the status of your application by logging into your readySC account.

Pickens County manufacturing facility to host job fair

KP Components, Inc., a Denmark-based precision computer numerically controlled (CNC) machining supplier, will hold a job fair Thursday to help fill positions at its new Easley plant.

The job fair will be from 1 to 4 p.m. at 117 Sheriff Mill Road in Easley, according to this release.

The company is looking to hire experienced CNC machinists or recent machine tooling graduates. The facility will produce hydraulic components used in farm equipment, heavy equipment and wind power turbines.

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First-time Unemployment Claims Drop in State and Nation

Initial applications for jobless benefits dropped in both South Carolina and throughout the nation last week, according to data released today by the Department of Labor.

Nationwide, seasonally adjusted first-time claims for state Unemployment Insurance benefits decreased by 4,000 to 364,000 from the week before. This represented the lowest level since April 2008.

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Economy Adds 103,000 Jobs in September, National Unemployment Rate Stays at 9.1 Percent

The United States Labor Department reports that 103,000 jobs were added in September while the nation’s unemployment rate remains at 9.1 percent for the third consecutive month.

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South Carolina’s Unemployment Situation as of August 2011

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose from 10.9 percent in July to 11.1 percent in August.  The state’s labor force increased for the fourth consecutive month with the total labor force level estimated at 2,163,803. 

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South Carolina’s July Employment Situation: Unemployment Rate Climbs; Manufacturing Continues to Gain Jobs

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose from 10.5 percent in June to 10.9 percent in July.

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Unemployment Rate Ticks Up Slightly; Job Gains Still Seen in Several Sectors

South Carolina’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 9.8 percent in April to 10.0 percent in May, similar to the national rate increase from 9.0 percent in April to 9.1 percent in May, according to the SC Department of Employment and Workforce.

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