Industrial employment in South Carolina fell 3.2 percent over the past 12 months according to the 2011 South Carolina Manufacturers Register, an industrial directory published annually by Manufacturers' News Inc. MNI reports South Carolina lost 8,747 manufacturing jobs over the past year, a significantly smaller decline than the 24,393 jobs MNI reported lost over the 2008-2009 survey period.

"Decreased demand continues to affect South Carolina's manufacturing sector," says Tom Dubin, president of the Evanston, Ill.-based publishing company, which has been surveying industry since 1912, "However we're definitely seeing fewer job losses than we did a year ago, and the state's favorable business climate continues to help improve the outlook."

Bright spots for South Carolina include several plant openings such as Lava USA's textile plant in York County; California-based Jatco's production facility in Greenwood County; Materials Innovation Technologies' plant in Lake City; Jetline's Cherokee County plant; MTU Detroit Diesel Inc.'s engine production plant in Aiken County; and Boeing's new plant in Charleston.  

Manufacturers' News reports South Carolina is now home to 5,111 manufacturers employing 262,929 workers.

Textiles/apparel saw the sharpest decline, down 8.8 percent over the past 12 months, and currently ranks as the state's second-largest industrial sector by employment with 27,853 jobs. Significant losses for the sector included Blumenthal Mills' closure in Marion County and the closures of several Milliken textile plants. Industrial machinery and equipment remains the state's largest manufacturing sector by employment with 35,146 industrial jobs, down 5.7 percent over the year. Third-ranked rubber/plastics accounts for 26,142 jobs, down 1.6 percent over the past 12 months.

Other sectors that lost jobs over the year included stone/clay/glass, down 6.5 percent: chemicals down 6.1 percent; transportation equipment, down 6 percent; printing/publishing, down 4.3 percent; primary metals, down 4.2 percent; lumber/wood, down 3 percent; electronics, down 2.8 percent; and paper products, down 2.7 percent. Gains were seen in furniture/fixtures, up 9.7 percent; and food products, up 7.5 percent.

According to the Directory, South Carolina's Northwest region accounts for the largest share of industrial employment with 164,900 manufacturing jobs, down 1.5 percent over the past year. The Northeast region ranks second at 47,659 manufacturing jobs, down 8.6 percent over the year. The Southeast region of the state is home to 29,054 industrial jobs, down 3.4 percent, while the Southwest is home to 21,316 jobs, down 2.6 percent.

MNI data shows Greenville is South Carolina's top city for manufacturing employment, home to 23,821 jobs, down 6.6 percent over the past year. Second-ranked Spartanburg accounts for 15,036 jobs, with employment down 3.5 percent. Columbia is home to 9,687 industrial jobs, with no significant change reported over the year. Fourth-ranked Greer saw manufacturing employment increase 2.8 percent, and currently accounts for 9,673 jobs. Anderson accounts for 9,014 manufacturing jobs, with employment virtually unchanged from last year.