Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce Releases 2020 Economic Outlook Forecast

Staff Report From Charleston CEO

Thursday, March 12th, 2020

The Charleston Metro Chamber presented the 2020 Economic Forecast at its annual Economic Outlook Conference on Wednesday. The forecast for the Charleston region is a partnership project between the Charleston Metro Chamber's Center for Business Research and the College of Charleston School of Business.

Dr. Alan Shao, Dean of the College of Charleston School of Business and Jacki Renegar, Director of the Center for Business Research, presented 2019 data from key economic indicators that drive the region's economy and predictions for those indicators for 2020 and 2021.

Highlights from the 2020 Economic Forecast:

Economically, 2019 was another vigorous year for the Charleston Metro Area. The region was named a “Small Powerhouse” by McKinsey Global Institute in its Future of Work in America study in 2019.

Charleston also received top marks from Forbes, ranking it in the top five metros of “where the jobs will be in 2020”

Local labor force is forecasted to grow by 2% again in 2020, as employment grows at 2.5%. In 2021, roughly this same pace is expected, and the labor force living inside the three county region will surpass 400,000 for the first time.

Military remains a top economic driver in our region, with a $10.8 billion dollar annual impact. That will continue to strengthen as Charleston becomes one of the Coast Guard’s largest bases in the nation over the next several years.

The Charleston region is thriving and the 2020-2021 forecast indicates continued economic expansion. While our economy is strong and diverse, we must continue aligning talent skillsets with our growing jobs and ensuring housing options are affordable for all residents.

The key to the success of the forecasting project has been the Economic Outlook Board, comprised of local business leaders from every major economic sector. Their collective insight provides information that may not be picked up in a statistical analysis of the data.

The Board often has information on future developments that no statistical model would capture. Furthermore, the data is often reported in a lag - the Economic Outlook Board reviews the statistical forecast and adds the “real-time, real-knowledge” insight into the actual performance of the local economy.

The forecast is based upon historical data tracked and collected by the Chamber’s Center for Business Research. Data on each of the key economic indicators that drive the region’s economy are collected and provided to the College of Charleston School of Business and the data is reviewed. An econometric forecasting model is used to develop a projection for each indicator. The model also takes into account national indicators.