Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Richfield’s Kmart store to close in April

After almost 35 years of service, the Richfield Kmart store is set to close its doors in April. The closure will result in 53 people losing their jobs — most of them part time. Associates that are eligible will receive severance and have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Sears or Kmart stores. The closing is tentatively set for mid-April, with a storewide liquidation beginning Sunday, Jan. 24. Richfield Reaper

Wayne County Economic Update

In third quarter 2015, Wayne County held on to the job growth it started earlier in the year. While the improvement is welcome, several industries did take an employment hit. Unemployment rates in the area continue to slowly trend downward. That’s welcome news for this county with the third highest jobless rate in the state. Wayne County continues to struggle with the loss of employment opportunities associated with the closure of its largest employer several years ago. On the positive side, first-time claims for unemployment insurance show a typical seasonal pattern with no significant sign of layoffs. Both sales and construction also demonstrated recent improvement. All in all, the county seems on the road to recovery.


  • Wayne County added more than 60 new jobs to its nonfarm jobs total between September 2014 and September 2015. 
  • Jobs were up a robust 6 percent in September and the county has not shown a job loss since February 2015. 
  • Leisure/hospitality services and healthcare/social services both experienced notable year-to-year contractions. 
  • Growth in construction, retail trade and the public sector more than counteracted the aforementioned losses. 
  • While Wayne County registered the third highest unemployment rate in the state in December 2015 (8.7 percent), it has seen its rate dip slightly over the past year. 
  • In late 2015, unemployment insurance claims data displayed a typical seasonal pattern with no sign of cyclical distress. 
  • Although the county’s average monthly wage had flattened earlier in the year, the county managed a strong 5-percent wage gain between the third quarters of 2014 and 2015. 
  • For the first 11 months of 2015, Garfield County’s construction permit totals are up by a healthy 25 percent when compared to the same time period in 2014. 
  • Residential permitting was behind the gain with nonresidential building basically holding its own. 
  • Third quarter 2015 gross taxable sales jumped by 9.2 percent over third quarter 2014 figures. 
  • Sales at food stores, accommodations and food services showed the most obvious increases.

Sevier County building permits hold ground

Large projects continued to fuel building permits in Sevier County through 2015. The county’s building department ended 2015 with 42 permits with a value of $8.05 million for new residential construction. This was an increase of approximately $1.3 million in valuation from the previous year.

Residential construction in the county in 2015 included 20 dwellings in unincorporated areas, including one cabin. Monroe had seven new dwellings, including one duplex. Salina had five, followed by Central Valley with four, Sigurd with two and Aurora, Elsinore and Koosharem all with one.

With 12 permits with a value of $3.3 million in 2015, the county saw a dip in its commercial construction permits from the prior year. The county’s building department had one of its largest years for commercial construction on record in 2014, when several large commercial projects resulted in $17.9 million in total valuation. Sevier County also contracted with Sevier School District for building inspections, which included the new $33 million Richfield High School construction. Richfield Reaper

Sevier County Economic Update

With almost two years of job growth under its belt, Sevier County's economy seems healthy with most industries joining in on the expansionary trend. Joblessness has changed little over the year and remains relatively low. Plus, no undue signs of stress have appeared in the unemployment insurance claims which have rolled along at a seasonal pace. Construction permitting appears to be holding ground and sales have shown improvement in all but one quarter during the past three years.


  • Between September 2014 and September 2015, Sevier County generated almost 220 new jobs for a growth rate approaching 3 percent. 
  • Government proved the only major sector with employment declines, and that loss was barely noticeable. 
  • Leisure/hospitality services contributed the largest number of new positions with resilient advances in health/social services, transportation and retail trade. 
  • The county’s unemployment rate has shown slight ups and downs during the past year, but the December 2015 figure remains relatively low at 4.3 percent. 
  • New claims for unemployment insurance followed a seasonal pattern as 2015 came to a close with no significant nonseasonal layoffs. 
  • Construction, professional/business services and leisure/hospitality services accounted for the largest shares of first-time claims. 
  • The county’s average monthly wage continued to increase. Year-to-year growth in the third quarter 2015 average wage proved particularly strong at 6.5 percent, although these growth rates can be fairly erratic. 
  • Construction permitting values appear to be holding their own with a 10-percent increase for the first 11 months of 2015. 
  • Third quarter 2015 gross taxable sales showed a moderate 3-percent year-over gain in Sevier County. 
  • In general, retail sales appeared vigorous with building materials/garden stores showing a decided increase.

New Cache Valley Bank open for business

Cache Valley Bank reopened the replicated Bank of Ephraim’s first building and began conducting business at Main and Center streets on Dec. 14. Sanpete Messenger

Sanpete County Economic Update

For the past year, Sanpete County has found itself back in the economic highlife. In third quarter 2015, the rate of employment expansion continued to improve with fairly broad-based industry participation. Joblessness has held fairly steady over the past year at what certainly can be considered a full-employment level. No significant nonseasonal layoffs are apparent in the pattern of first-time unemployment insurance claims. Construction permitting exhibited strong gains as did gross taxable sales. All in all, the economy appears strong and healthy.

  • Sanpete County pumped out more than 360 jobs between September 2014 and September 2015, for a year-to-year growth rate of almost 5 percent. 
  • Most major industries experienced expansion with only mining and leisure/hospitality services showing minor contraction. 
  • Public-sector employment at the state and local level led the job-creating industry pack. 
  • However, construction, manufacturing, retail trade and professional/business services all made strong contributions as well. 
  • Joblessness seems to have bottomed out at 3.7 percent in December 2015. 
  • The county has seen little change in unemployment rates over the past year. 
  • First-time claims for unemployment insurance showed a typical seasonal pattern as 2015 came to a close. The number did run slightly above 2014, but poses no cause for concern. 
  • Thanks to its project-to-project nature, construction accounted for a large share of 2015 claims activity. 
  • Sanpete County’s average monthly nonfarm wage continued to improve. Between the third quarters of 2014 and 2015, the increase proved particularly robust (3.7 percent). 
  • In the first 11 months of 2015, Sanpete County’s nonresidential permit values increased a dramatic 550 percent when compared to 2014. 
  • The number of new home permits rose in 2015 compared to 2014, but remains low from an historical perspective. 
  • Gross taxable sales generated its eighth straight quarter of expanding sales. Between the third quarters of 2014 and 2015, sales increased by a robust 7 percent. 
  • Sales proved solid in most retail categories, although building materials/garden stores accounted for a notable portion of the overall gain.

Central Utah rail line project faces controversy, opposition

Political pressure and scrutiny from the public and press may be poised to create problems for a 43-mile Central Utah rail line project and an associated export terminal in Oakland, Calif., facilities designed to give a shot in the arm to the area economy.

Sanpete County, in conjunction with Sevier, Carbon and Emery counties, and with the help of a $53 million loan from the Utah Community Impact Board (CIB), is an investor in the two-pronged project. The goal is to bring rail service to the four counties. That could permit coal mined in Sevier and Emery counties, and other local cargo such as hay and farm products, to be shipped to Oakland by rail, loaded on ships and sold overseas, mainly in Asia. The entire rail/terminal project will cost over $250 million to make a reality, most of it to come from private investment. But the $53 million state loan could be important seed money to get project going.

Piute County Economic Update

After a brief fling with job growth, Piute County once again found itself in the job-loss trenches in third quarter 2015. The decline represents few jobs and would be less troubling if not for the county’s relatively consistent history of job loss. Despite a sluggish job environment, the county’s unemployment rate has held relatively steady over the past year and there is no sign of unusual activity in new unemployment insurance claims. In contrast with the job market, sales exhibited a strong third quarter performance. Piute County’s economy must consistently create jobs before it can be ruled economically healthy.

  • Piute County lost nine jobs between September 2014 and September 2015 resulting in a year-to-year decline of almost 4 percent. 
  • Industry-level job increases proved virtually nonexistent. 
  • Leisure/hospitality services and retail trade experienced the largest employment declines. 
  • In December 2015, Piute County’s unemployment rate measured 6.8 percent, equal to its December 2014 figure. 
  • Piute County can absorb job losses without an increase in unemployment rates because many workers travel outside the county for employment. 
  • First-time claims for unemployment insurance followed a seasonal pattern as 2015 came to end with the largest number of claims filed in the construction industry. 
  • The county’s average monthly wage actually showed a 10-percent year-to-year gain in third quarter 2015. 
  • However, quarterly wage increases are notoriously fickle, particularly in a small county. 
  • Gross taxable sales bounced back from losses earlier in the year with a robust 15-percent third quarter increase. 
  • Strong sales in food stores, recreation and gasoline stations accounted for much of the improvement.

Lady Nails opens in Ephraim

A new business, Lady Nails, has opened its doors in the Ephraim Market Mall, between Morris Casperson Accounting and Caldwell Banking Real Estate. The salon is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, closed Sundays and some holidays. Lady Nails, owned and operated by Michael and Jenny Le, is the only full-service nail salon in Sanpete County. The Le's are professionals who offer full nail services including manicures, pedicures, full set nails, refills, backfills or ‘double fills’ as well as spray-on designs. Sanpete Pyramid