MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Myrtle Beach area is constantly growing and that trend is expected to continue into the New Year, according to a report released by University of South Carolina economists.
Residential construction is one industry booming in Myrtle Beach, with a 78.1 percent increase in residential building permits this past year, and Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean, expects this number to grow.
"To see increases in non-tourism sectors like real estate is very important. We know that when real estate and tourism are growing, the Grand Strand and Pee Dee all benefit," says Dean.
Economists at the Darla Moore School of Business' 33rd Annual Economic Outlook Conference are optimistic that South Carolina moving from a recovery to an expansion, announcing the Myrtle Beach area leads the state for growth in retail sales and residential building permits in the past year.
The chamber credits the recovery of our economy to tourism. Dean says increased advertising brought more visitors to our area, and some opted to stay.
"There have been several developments that were either started before the recession and are now picking up, or in a few cases they've actually expanded and while the numbers aren't reaching pre-recession levels just yet, it's a positive sign that new construction is underway. that's creating jobs, and that shows that this market is healthy and starting to come back."
USC economists expect to see growth in the construction industry, financial services, retail trade and the leisure and hospitality sector in 2014.
"The most recent economic forecast is very encouraging- employment is up, tourism is growing, retail spending is rising, and finally real estate is turning a corner. It's been a slow motion recovery but we're finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel," says Dean.
That light includes a 2.5 percent increase in employment growth in Myrtle Beach.
Optimism continues for the state with unemployment down to 75 percent. Horry County's jobless rate, however, is still above South Carolina's average.
The chamber hopes additional infrastructure, like Interstate 73, will bring more jobs and opportunity to the area. Economists say the New Year will bring job growth to 1.7 percent, which will then boost the economy in the new year.