South Carolina’s asphalt industry is booming, and it’s looking for hundreds of workers.
Spending on road construction in South Carolina has quadrupled in the last five years, and an influx of funding from recent gas tax increases has created a spike in demand for asphalt workers, industry leaders say.
To date, the state’s asphalt industry has 350 jobs open that companies are looking to fill, and the paving industry anticipates more than 1,000 jobs will be created over the next five years, according to the S.C. Asphalt Pavement Association.
“I was talking with some of our member companies, and one of them noted, ‘We would hire 50 equipment operators today if we could,’” said Ashley Batson, executive director of the S.C. Asphalt Pavement Association. “Moreover, it is crucial to maintain our roadways to spur new commerce and economic development. Our road networks are a vital and important part of our economy in South Carolina.”
For close to two years, S.C. motorists have been paying more at the pump after state lawmakers approved a gas-tax hike, saying it would lead to the largest investment in state history to fix the state’s pothole-riddled roads.
The tax increase — four cents per gallon so far since July 1 of 2017 — has generated $172.5 million in extra cash for the state’s road improvements. That has resulted in $43.7 million in new completed road construction projects around the state as of March 31, according to the S.C. Department of Transportation, with more than $882 million worth of projects in construction and another $75 million in development.
The state pavement association recently launched a workforce development campaign to raise awareness about job opportunities being created due in large part to the 2017 S.C. roads bill. Statewide TV and radio ads have been running since January, and billboards were put up in March.
The campaign is a joint effort between contractors and suppliers across the state to grow the asphalt workforce to meet upcoming demand across the state.
For the fiscal year starting July 1, the S.C. DOT anticipates a 17% increase in spending on pavement projects throughout the state, with another 15% increase planned the following fiscal year.
Asphalt workers have the potential to make nearly $38,000 a year as an equipment operator without the need of a technical or advanced degree. Meanwhile, after S.C. DOT certification as a quality control technician, workers have the potential to earn about $45,500 a year according to the S.C. Asphalt Pavement Association. A general laborer can make anywhere from about $20,600 to $35,000 per year.
“Strengthening the road network within our state takes integrity and skill, and it is essential to our businesses here in South Carolina,” S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster said in a statement. “Strong infrastructure is crucial to economic growth, and I am proud to support this innovative workforce development campaign.”
For more information and to search available jobs, go to https://www.asphaltworkssc.org.