UofSC economic forecast for 2021: Palmetto State’s economy largely rebounded, but significant gaps still remain

December 2, 2020

With a current unemployment rate of 4.2 percent — less than two percentage points away from its pre-pandemic low of 2.5 percent — South Carolina’s economy has largely recovered from the pandemic-induced recession of 2020, according to University of South Carolina economists Douglas Woodward and Joseph Von Nessen.

The strong statewide recovery was highlighted during the 40th Annual Economic Outlook Series presented by the Darla Moore School of Business this week.

“It’s a tale of two recoveries. South Carolina’s economy has come back strong and is almost fully recovered in many areas,” Von Nessen says. “But there are two major exceptions – the leisure and hospitality industry and small businesses providing in-person services.”

The economists cautioned that a COVID-19 vaccine will be required to return to full strength across all sectors in 2021. With a projected uptick in COVID-19 cases likely over the upcoming holiday season accompanying the expiration of CARES act funding, it is unlikely that the pace of South Carolina’s economic recovery will improve before next year.

This recovery is unique because it is being led by biological factors — the pandemic and the development of a vaccine — more than economic factors, Von Nessen says. “We’ve made good progress so far, but we’re not out of the woods yet.”