Firm expects strong construction activity in 2019.

South Carolina construction activity is up, according to LCK, a project management partner of Colliers International South Carolina.

LCK, in its third quarter report, said construction starts statewide were .63% higher than starts in the third quarter of 2017. Across the state, 25,305 project starts occurred during 2018, valued at $12.54 billion. In the third quarter, 8,306 construction project starts were recorded.

Looking ahead, the firm projects construction activity to rise "well into 2019 due to an optimistic business climate, increasing population, high demand for industrial structures and public school building programs."

"Our assertion that construction should remain strong into 2019 is predicated on several factors. Material costs are fluctuating and based on 2018 history, the incremental rise in costs has not significantly slowed construction. We assume that the trend will remain the same into 2019," Mickey E. Layden, LCK president and CEO, told GSA Business Report.

Layden said the shortage of labor is an ongoing issue, and while it drives costs to some degree, "we see the shortage having a greater impact on construction durations and limitations in the pool of contractors who are interested in competitively bidding for work." She said projects already in the planning stages or early construction will continue into 2019, positively impacting the overall average of construction dollars spent across the entire year.

The LCK report shows that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of September 2018, there were 98,400 construction employees in South Carolina, representing 4.66% of total nonfarm employment. Construction employment decreased by 100 jobs over the last 12 months; however, employment in the major markets is largely increasing.

"Project starts in South Carolina are in part driven by the state's attractive business climate, positive population growth trends and favorable lending conditions," Layden said. "The healthcare, education and governmental building sectors will need to respond to these growth factors, even if the cost for construction increases. As a result, we anticipate that these...

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