Thinking about launching your career in Charleston, SC? You’ve chosen the right city. With its diversified economy, low unemployment rate and robust job growth, the Charleston-metro region offers plentiful job opportunities for those seeking employment.
On top of it all, Charleston is simply an incredible place to live. In addition to bountiful job opportunities, the Holy City’s coastal location also provides gorgeous beaches, scenic views and an endless array of recreational activities. Not to mention the city’s globally renowned food scene and rich history, which further contributes to the economy with its vibrant tourism.
If you’re ready to enter the job market, where you live can make all the difference to your success. Let’s take a deeper look into what makes Charleston one of the best cities for job hunters.
Charleston Labor Statistics at a Glance
Finding a job and settling down in Charleston, SC could be easier than you think. According to the SC Department of Employment & Workforce’s latest Charleston Community Profile, the Holy City’s low unemployment rate is outperforming both the state and the nation.
South Carolina’s monthly unemployment rate was at 3.3 percent for March 2019, while Charleston’s was at 2.8 for the same month. With the nation’s monthly unemployment rate at 3.9 percent, Charleston beats it by more than a whole percentage point.
Here are a few additional facts and figures from the report:
- Monthly Unemployment Rate (unadjusted): 8 percent
- Unemployed: 5,830
- Employed: 204,462
- Population in 2010: 348,370
- Projected Population for 2020: 366,380
- Notable Employers: The Boeing Company, Medical University of SC, The Citadel, Comcast
Why Job Seekers Are Flocking to Charleston, SC
There is no doubt about it: the Charleston job market is hot. A growing number of job seekers are turning to the Holy City for steady employment due to the region’s thriving economy, ideal port location and ongoing support from the local community.
As you could probably guess based on the labor market statistics above, Charleston’s economy is fueling job creation and contributing to the city’s prosperity. According to the Milken Institute’s Best Performing Cities index, Charleston’s economy ranked 16th-best in the nation, jumping six places up from last year.
What’s behind the city’s economic growth? The following economic trends are playing a significant role in Charleston’s economic expansion:
- Job Growth: Charleston’s job outlook is promising. According to a Talent Demand Study by the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, the city will add nearly 35,000 jobs by 2022. The report stated that 80 percent of this job growth will be in 10 specific occupations.
- Fast-Growing City: Job seekers—especially millennials—are flocking to Charleston. Attracted by the area’s lifestyle and promising job growth, young professionals are now scooping up homes in Charleston and contributing to the overall health of the economy.
- Promising Outlook: A healthy and diverse economy is essential to any metro region’s future success. Fortunately, Charleston boasts a diverse and flexible economy that is fueled by tourism, its vibrant shipping industry, retailers, airlines and more. This diversity is critical to reducing the potential negative impact of future recessions.
- Capital Investment: Thanks to its business-friendly atmosphere and innovative workforce, companies are continuing to invest heavily in Charleston. From the new Mercedes-Benz plant in North Charleston to Boeing, capital is an essential component for cities to grow—and Charleston has it in spades.
Prosperous Port City
Charleston’s coastal location plays an enormous role in its economic boom and prosperity. The region has benefited from the wealthy seaport dating back to the 1800s when Charleston first rose to prominence as a hub for Atlantic trade.
Today, the Port of Charleston is a key player in the city’s economy and providing hundreds of thousands of jobs statewide. According to an Economic Impact Study by the South Carolina Ports Authority (SPCA), the Port of Charleston provides an estimated $53 billion in annual economic activity, 187,600 jobs and $10.2 billion in labor income.
The Port of Charleston—which is owned and operated by the SPCA—is continuing to pave the way towards a brighter future for Charleston. Not only did the SPCA report a record-breaking year for container shipments in 2018, but the Port of Charleston is also unveiling new infrastructure to accommodate “super ships.” With this major milestone, the Holy City is continuing to grow its presence in global trade and laying the groundwork for a booming manufacturing economy.
Job Seeker Resources and Assistance
Charleston residents and lawmakers have strived to create government agencies and organizations that can help job seekers and business owners achieve their life goals. If you’re currently searching for employment in the Holy City, be sure to make use of the resources available to you:
- Charleston Job Network: Job opportunities, resume and cover letter writing help, career events, webinars, etc.
- Charleston County Public Library: Job opportunities, technology learning services, business resources (printing, copying, scanning), one-on-one business counseling, etc.
- Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce: Networking events, expert panels, professional career development, etc.
- SC Works: Job opportunities, employer/employee resources, career coaches, veteran assistance, etc.
- Charleston Regional Development Alliance: Resources for entrepreneurs and established companies, connecting them to organizations such as Charleston Digital Corridor and Holy City Collective.
- Charleston, SC SCORE: Business-to-business mentoring, online workshops, local guidance and other assistance for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Strong and Supportive Community
There is little doubt that Charleston’s economic success is bolstered by its tight-knit community. Whether you’re a transplant or you were born and raised in the Lowcountry, the locals embody true Southern hospitality and are willing to go the extra mile to help their neighbors out.
This is especially true for those who wish to launch a business in the Holy City. The community is incredibly supportive of startups, entrepreneurs and small business owners, with residents making a conscious effort to shop local. From supporting Small Business Saturday to participating in the Charleston Art Walk, locals regularly support businesses large and small.
Top Industries in Charleston
As a coastal city with a deep port and a busy, international airport, it probably comes as no surprise that Charleston is teeming with business activity. While not every profession within an industry will have the same job outlook, you can maximize your chances of employment by launching your career in one of the city’s top-performing industries.
Charleston’s tourism industry is a huge driver of the economy and job opportunities in the region. According to CHS Today, tourism accounted for 20.1 percent of sales in 2017 in the Greater Charleston Metro and resulted in an economic impact of $7.4 billion for the same year.
It’s no big surprise, given the city’s vast amenities and offerings. Charleston has been voted the best U.S. city by Travel + Leisure Magazine for six years running and consistently ranked in the magazine’s ‘best cities in the world’ category as well.
What’s not to love? With the city’s historic houses, vibrant culture and award-winning food, Charleston has remained a hot travel destination for all types of adventure-seekers, from retirees and families to single ladies throwing bachelorette parties.
The hospitality and tourism industries often go hand-in-hand. After all, the millions of people who visit Charleston each year need somewhere to stay and eat as they explore everything the city has to offer.
The hospitality industry (which includes things such as restaurants, lodging, parks, transportation and travel) has plenty of open positions for job seekers. In fact, Charleston’s growing tourism industry has led to a staffing shortage as business owners struggle to fill positions in their restaurants and hotels.
Whether you’re a chef hoping to start a restaurant in Charleston or you want to work as a concierge at one of the city’s many hotels, the industry is ripe with opportunities.
Almost a decade ago, Boeing chose North Charleston as its new production facility, driving up the city’s aerospace sector along with it. Since then, other manufacturing companies have followed suit, including auto manufacturers Volvo and Mercedes-Benz.
The manufacturing industry has long been contributing to Charleston’s economic growth. In addition to tax-friendly policies and pro-business climate, the region has supported the advanced manufacturing sector through its workforce strategy. From rethinking school curriculum to apprenticeships and internships, the city has made a conscious effort to reduce the skills gap and produce a qualified workforce.
If you’re a nurse or physician, finding a job in Charleston is almost guaranteed in the current economic climate. Home to top-notch facilities such as the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Roper St. Francis, the Holy City boasts a diverse concentration of healthcare talent that is growing all the time.
As the need for healthcare services grows, Charleston is once again finding itself in a staffing shortage crisis for certain positions. If you’re a qualified nurse or physician, chances are good that you’ll easily land a job in the city.
Forget Silicon Valley—Charleston’s new nickname, ‘Silicon Harbor’ reflects its thriving tech scene that has been steadily growing in the past decade. Fueled by the increasing number of millennials moving to the region, Charleston’s tech scene is now home to more than 500+ tech companies and offers a vast array of job opportunities and resources for tech workers.
If you’re searching for a job in the tech sector, be sure to check out the Charleston Digital Corridor. Launched more than a decade ago, the community-backed initiative aims to attract and nurture tech workers in the Greater Charleston Metro area and grow the city’s sizeable talent pool.
Finding a Home in Charleston, SC
After securing employment in a new city, the next logical step is to relocate. If you’ve landed your dream job and are now ready to start searching for a home in Charleston, SC, you’ll no doubt want to explore all the options available to you.
Explore Charleston’s Diverse Neighborhoods
From its vibrant and historic downtown area to the small-town appeal of Mount Pleasant, each area around the Charleston coast has something unique to offer residents. Depending on where you’re at in life, some areas may appeal to you more than others.
Are you a retiree looking for privacy and relaxation? If so, life on Kiawah Island or Sullivan’s Island could be right up your alley. Searching for the best place to raise a family? Check out the award-winning schools on Mount Pleasant and see if it’s a good fit for you and your little ones.
Remember that buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll ever make. To ensure that you make the right choice, be sure to talk with Charleston real estate experts who can give you the inside scoop on what it’s like to live, work and play in the Lowcountry.
Spend a Few Weekends at the Beach
If you love white sands and the sound of crashing waves, consider relaxing on Charleston’s pristine beaches for a weekend. Spending time at one of the city’s gorgeous beaches is an excellent way to find your ideal beach—and choose a home in close proximity to it.
From the family-friendly shores of Isle of Palms to the unspoiled beaches at Seabrook Island, Charleston’s varied beaches are as beautiful as they are unique. Book a vacation rental and spend quality time with the family as you discover your ideal beach.
Historic Home or Modern?
One of Charleston’s key attractions for tourists and homeowners alike are its historic homes. Full of charm and beauty, historic homes can be a dream come true for some homeowners—and a total nightmare for others.
If you’re considering the possibility of buying a historic home, make sure that you consider the rules and regulations that the city has put in place. Renovations can be a tricky process that may not be worth the charming qualities and features.
To sum it all up, Charleston’s thriving economy and vast array of amenities has transformed the city into a haven for job seekers and entrepreneurs. Whether you want to try your hand at a career in the restaurant industry or take advantage of the growing opportunities in the technology sector, moving to Charleston could be the key to launching your career.