South Carolina’s leading index of economic indicators in May improved for the fourth straight month and hit its highest point since June 2007, according to a report posted by the S.C. Department of Commerce.

The leading index, driven in part by a jump in new-home construction and a drop in unemployment claims, reached 101.1 in May, according to the report, authored by David Clayton, director of the agency’s research division.

“Heading into summer, the housing market continues to improve in South Carolina,” the report said.

The number of residential construction permits rose 26.3% in May compared with April. Meanwhile, the total value of the permits issued in May rose 17.5%.

The coastal region posted the largest increases in new residential construction permits with Charleston up 53% in May over the previous month, and Myrtle Beach up 39%.

The median sales price for a single-family home climbed $8,500 or 5.6% in May, the reported added.

“Last month’s median sales price gain was the largest, in dollar terms, since August 2009,” the report said.

Overall, the volume of home sales in May rose 21% compared with May 2012, with the heftiest increases in Greenville and Spartanburg, each up about 40%.

On the jobs front, nonfarm employment increased 5,400 jobs or 0.3% in May from the prior month.

Meanwhile, the average weekly number of initial claims for unemployment insurance was 4,306 in May, about 2.6% less than April and about 4% less than May 2012.

Greenville reported the largest decline at 14%, followed by Spartanburg, down 9%.

Other key S.C. indicators in May included:

  • Personal income decreased 1% to $163.3 billion in the first quarter.
  • S.C. stock index gained 1% of 0.95 points, closing at 100.85.
  • 0.01% decrease in labor force, down 276 to seasonally adjusted 2,169,409.
  • No change in unemployment rate at 8%.
  • 1.4% decrease in weekly manufacturing hours to 41.3 hours.
  • 0.4% decrease in available online job posts to seasonally adjusted 56,400 listings.

Source: Columbia Regional Business Report