This article was originally posted on The Lancaster News on January 6, 2019 here:

Lancaster County’s per-capita income has jumped 16 percent in the past year, a mind-blowing leap that has us ranked third-highest in the state, with average income trailing only Charleston and Beaufort counties.

“Shocking. This ascension is like nothing I’ve ever seen,” county Economic Development Director Jamie Gilbert said after the data was released Wednesday by the S.C. Department of Revenue.

Lancaster County’s per-capita income, the total income earned in an area divided by its population, is now $47,505.  Charleston’s is $57,281 and Beaufort’s is $52,763.

In 2016, per-capita income here was $38,043 and we ranked ninth. In 2017, it was $40,941 and we rose to seventh.

“We’ve skyrocketed to third, and in just three years, we’ve seen our per-capita income increase by 24.8 percent,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert attributes the increase to a combination of factors, all of them related to the explosive growth of the county’s Panhandle.

The biggest two are high-income people flooding into the county, and new employers bringing higher-paying jobs here. “The two factors work hand in hand,” he said. Right now, the county’s average hourly wage is $20.47. Gilbert noted that the latest Census data shows the creation of 2,199 jobs in the county from 2015-17. And an additional 20 economic development projects announced in 2017-18 are expected to add more than 2,900 additional jobs over the next several years.


County's Per-capita Income Growth


Spreading south

Indian Land has become a hotbed for higher-paying corporate, manufacturing and information-technology jobs in the last five years. The Panhandle hosts the headquarters of major employers such as Red Ventures, CompuCom, Movement Mortgage, Sharonview Federal Credit Union, Continental Tire of the Americas, INSP Network and Ministries, Blythe Co., Honeywell Scanning Devices and Simpson Electric. All of them are north of S.C. 5, which is a somewhat troubling trend for the other portions of the county still pulling themselves out of the Great Recession. The city of Lancaster is bracing for the pending loss of battery manufacturer Duracell.

Top 10
According to the latest state figures, the per-capita income for South Carolina is now $41,633. Here are the top 10 counties.
1. Charleston – $57,281
2. Beaufort – $52,763
3. Lancaster – $47,505
4. Greenville – $46,066
5. Georgetown – $44,782
6. Lexington – $44,497
7. York – $44,343
8. Richland – $43,863
9. Spartanburg – $41,709
10. Oconee – $41,424

Follow reporter Greg Summers on Twitter @GregSummersTLN or contact him at (803) 283-1156.