Edgefield County in South Carolina had the largest increase in average weekly wage in 2021 for the seven-county Augusta metro area.
Wages there increased from $802 per week in 2020 to $874 in 2021, based on recently released data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That equates to a 9 percent increase, just enough to compensate for inflation running at 8.6 percent.
All counties in the Augusta Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) saw increases in average weekly wages, but not enough to keep up with inflation. Burke County in Georgia had the lowest increase at 1.2%. However, firms in Burke County are still paying the highest average weekly wage at $1,840. Firms in Lincoln County, GA pay the lowest at $673.
I drove through Trenton in Edgefield County last week and the peaches on sale always suggest to me that Edgefield is a largely rural and agricultural economy. And those industries did see higher wages in 2021 than in 2020, although below the county average.
For example, natural resources and mining wages increased 3.9%, and forestry and logging wages increased 6.1%. Not all agricultural jobs fared well; the aforementioned fruit tree farming saw wages fall by 2 percent, although they remain above the county average at $1,007.
One industry that did really well in Edgefield was manufacturing, where wages increased by 14.7 percent. Wage increases were also seen in wholesale and retail trade, both sectors having wage increases equal to the county average. Wages in financial activities increased by 13 percent.
The industry that fared the worst in terms of wages last year in Edgefield County was construction. Average wages were 2 percent lower in 2021 than in 2020. In the construction of buildings, wages fell 29 percent, with a small increase seen in civil engineering construction.
With rising interest rates set to cool the housing market, there will be continued downward pressure on construction wages in Edgefield, and all counties of the Augusta MSA.