The Economy: Improvements could spill into new year

January 1, 2013 

The economy improved in South Carolina in 2012, with a decreasing unemployment rate and a real estate market on the upswing.

More people got jobs and fewer worried about losing them. Fence-sitting home buyers finally decided to take advantage of historically low interest rates and lower prices and move into a new home. And stores that shoppers had been waiting years for, such as Whole Foods and Sephora, finally came to the Columbia market.

Economists expect improvements to continue in the new year if the fiscal cliff is averted.

The state is poised to attract more commercial investment, which will bring more jobs for those who still are struggling with unemployment. And the Federal Reserve has pledged to keep interest rates low for a couple more years, which could spur even more movement in the real estate market.

Trader Joe’s is set to open in the first few months of the year in Forest Acres, and developers are laying the groundwork for Killian’s Crossing in Northeast Richland, which could attract more new retailers.

But there are potential pitfalls to an economic recovery.

The military expects spending cuts as it draws down troops in Afghanistan. South Carolina leaders are working to minimize the impact of those cuts on the state, but there are no guarantees that this military-heavy community won’t lose missions.

And the new federal healthcare law remains a question mark for small businesses and individuals, who likely will have to start shopping for policies this year.

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