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A strong and thriving economy provides numerous opportunities for employment and careers in the Greater Columbia or Metropolitan Service Area. New businesses and industry regularly open in the area, which helps stabilize the overall economy and adds additional employment opportunities.

The high quality of life enjoyed by Midlands residents is a direct result of the prosperous level of employment in the region. The economy in Greater Columbia continues to grow mainly because the number, types and levels of jobs are constantly expanding. Government, services, trade and manufacturing continue to be the dominating force in the region's labor market, with armed forces recruitment and employment serving as stabilizing factors in the greater Columbia MSA. Other growing job areas range from education to retail.

As the center of government for the state of South Carolina and home of the state's largest university, the Columbia area has a strong technical education system. Many area private educational institutions are major employers, including Benedict College which has increased its staffing due to the largest enrollment in its 133-year history.

The MSA also has strong support from agriculture, with a large number of permanent and seasonal job opportunities. Some of these opportunities are made available by the State of South Carolina Department of Agriculture Commission, the State Farmer's Market, Consumer Protection and the many agricultural laboratories and research centers.

The growth rate of the industrial side of the area also helps to keep the average employment trend positive. Industry in the Midlands grew at a pace that prevented a decline in the average employment even during periods of transition. The service industry is also in a rapid growth mode. Some of the fastest-growing categories of employees in the MSA are: transportation by air; social services; legal services; business services; engineering and management services; amusement and recreation services; building materials and garden supplies; general merchandise stores; restaurants and clubs; insurance agents, brokers, and services; and auto repair, services and parking.

The employment projections for the nation for the next 10 years are expected to be at a much slower rate than during the past 10 years, with the service sector expected to lead employment growth among virtually all non-farm wage and salary jobs. However, the employment rate in the Columbia MSA is expected to exceed that of the past decade. The Bureau of Labor predicts the Midlands, will increase by 31 percent by the year 2015. According to their statistics, the number of jobs in the state of South Carolina will grow to 2,023,820 by the year 2006. With the Columbia MSA employing approximately one fourth of all employable residents of the State, when secondary and part-time jobs are counted, it can be extrapolated that the Columbia area will maintain its growth pace and continue to exceed that of the state as a whole.

The strong and prosperous economy of the Columbia area makes it a desirable place of employment for all levels and kinds of jobs. The educational infrastructure, from strong high schools to technical schools, liberal arts colleges, religious institutions and a major university, is more than adequate to support the training from entry level positions to promotions for top level positions. The greater Columbia area has a number of factors which attract people for the workforce and make working and living in the area desirable.

By Dr. Robert Scott