Friday, January 20, 2017

Utah's Employment Situation for December 2016

Utah's Employment Situation for December 2016 has been released on the web.

Find the Current Economic Situation in its entirety here.

For charts and tables, including County Employment, go to the Employment and Unemployment page.

Next update scheduled for March 3rd, 2017.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Interior Department approves major transmission lines through Utah

The U.S. Interior Department has announced their approval of the TransWest Express transmission line. The TransWest Express Project is a high-voltage, direct current electric transmission system that will deliver wind energy from Wyoming along a 730-mile route with potential grid interconnections in California, Nevada and Arizona. About 60 percent of its route — which crosses Utah — impacts Bureau of Land Management land and follows previously established utility corridors where possible.

The project, which will take three years to build, adds 3,000 megawatts of "backbone" transmission capacity between the Desert Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions, or enough energy to power 1.8 million homes. Deseret News

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Wayne County Economic Update

As is often the case for less-populated counties, what goes up rapidly can just as rapidly come down. Wayne County’s skyrocketing nonfarm job growth rate (16 percent in January) has evaporated in just six months. Whether the county can revive its employment expansion before year end is yet to be seen. Despite a tumbling job growth rate, joblessness has returned to its recent slowly declining ways. Although the unemployment rate remains high, first-time claims activity remains low. Wayne County’s mixed bag of indicators is rounded out by strong performance in both construction-permitting and sales.

  • In total, between the second quarters of 2015 and 2016, Wayne County’s nonfarm jobs increased by almost 5 percent. 
  • Unfortunately, by quarter-end, the county was experiencing slight year-over employment contraction. 
  • On an industry level, retail trade’s job gains were canceled out by leisure/hospitality services’ job losses. 
  • Other industries showed minor changes in employment totals. 
  • After a brief lull, Wayne County's jobless rate continued on its slow three-year decline and is down nearly a full percentage point from last year. 
  • The county’s August 2016 unemployment rate of 7.9 percent reflects a seasonal, tourism-driven economy. 
  • First-time claims for unemployment insurance are currently following a seasonal pattern suggesting that no unusual layoff activity has occurred so far in 2016. 
  • The leisure/hospitality services industry has generated the lion’s share of new claims so far this year. 
  • The county’s average monthly nonfarm wage took a breather from its recent expansion. 
  • Between the second quarters of 2015 and 2016, the average wage was virtually unchanged. 
  • Wayne County’s notable increase in permitted construction values is being driven by several nonresidential projects. 
  • New home building is down slightly from last year. 
  • Gross taxable sales were up almost 5 percent when the second quarters of 2015 and 2016 are compared marking four straight quarters of sales gains. 
  • Retail trade and accommodations accounted for much of the second quarter improvement.

Sevier County Economic Update

Sevier County has backed off from the healthy job growth it experienced in2015. Nonfarm job totals seem to be treading water with only marginal improvement. Although some industries have made employment strides, others have shed jobs. Slower job growth coordinates with an uptick in unemployment during spring and early summer (which has since abated). First-time claims for unemployment insurance currently show no sign of unusual economic distress. On the other hand, a dip in gross taxable sales combines with slower job growth to suggest the economy could use some revitalization.

  • After a brief dip into negative territory in May, Sevier County’s June 2016 nonfarm jobs total edged up by a little more than 1 percent (up about 110 jobs). 
  • Healthcare/social services made the largest employment contributions with help from mining, construction and the public sector. 
  • However, trade, information, leisure/hospitality services and other services all took notable job hits. 
  • After a brief uptick between March and June, Sevier County's unemployment rate has slipped back down to more normal levels. 
  • Joblessness measured 4.3 percent in August 2016, slightly higher than the statewide average, but below the national rate. 
  • In the first ten months of 2016, first-time claims for unemployment insurance followed a traditional seasonal pattern with no signs of unusual stress. 
  • So far this year, construction, retail trade and private education/healthcare/social services have generated the most claims activity. 
  • The county’s average monthly wage continued to show some improvement. 
  • Between the second quarters of 2015 and 2016 Sevier County’s average monthly wage expanded by almost 3 percent. 
  • Gross taxable sales dipped slightly (down about 1 percentage point) between the second quarters of 2015 and 2016. 
  • Despite strong sales growth at building/garden stores and food stores, a decrease in business investment expenditures and car sales put a drag on the overall sales totals.

Sanpete County Economic Update

Sanpete County’s economic indicators have aligned to paint a bright picture for the economy. Nonfarm jobs continued a two-year streak of moderate-to-strong year-over gains. While joblessness edged up slightly between March and June as workers entered and reentered the labor market, unemployment had dropped back to early 2016 levels by August. The share of out-of-work individuals remains relatively low. First-time claims for unemployment insurance also are also nominal, while construction permitting is up dramatically. Sales rounded out this strong performance with a healthy second quarter gain.

  • Between June 2015 and June 2016, Sanpete County added more than 240 nonfarm jobs for a year-to-year growth rate of 3.2 percent. 
  • Employment expansion in government, construction, manufacturing, trade/transportation/utilities and professional/business services proved sufficient to overshadow a 60-job loss in leisure/hospitality services. 
  • Other major industries experienced minor employment improvement. 
  • Following Utah’s lead, Sanpete County’s unemployment rate increased somewhat in in spring and early summer only to slip back down by summer's end. 
  • At 4.0 percent in August 2016, joblessness remains relatively low from an historical perspective. 
  • During the first 10 months of 2016, new unemployment insurance claims followed the seasonal pattern of the past several years with no sign of cyclical layoffs. 
  • Due to its project-to-project nature, construction accounted for a large share of current 2016 claims activity. 
  • Average monthly wages continued to trend upward. The county’s second quarter 2016 year-to-year gain of more than 4 percent appeared particularly encouraging. 
  • Construction permitting for the first eight months of 2016 is up substantially from the same time period in 2015. 
  • Both new residential and new nonresidential permit values contributed to the overall increase. 
  • Gross taxable sales turned in a strong second quarter 2016 gain as sales increased nearly 5 percent over second quarter 2015 figures. 
  • Sales at retail establishments registered particularly robust increases. 
  • The only decline of note was contraction in manufacturing business investment expenditures.

Piute County Economic Update

Piute County’s in-county labor market continued to struggle in the second quarter of 2016. A meager one-job gain in June was hardly sufficient to counteract job losses earlier in the quarter. Despite a rather disheartening jobs picture, unemployment slipped back down after a significant spring and early summer increase. The improvement in joblessness despite the lack of new jobs suggests workers have found employment outside the county or left the labor market all together. Moreover, the county’s jobless rate registers notably higher than the state average. While a slight uptick in sales sheds a little light on this rather gray picture, it falls far short of suggesting the county’s economy is back on track.

  • Piute County managed to stave off job loss in just one month of second quarter 2016. Moreover, the June 2016 year-over gain was merely one nonfarm job. 
  • In the last 12 months, job gains in professional/business services and leisure/hospitality services just offset job losses in government and retail trade. 
  • As in many Utah counties, Piute County joblessness bumped up a notch in spring and early summer only to edge back down, but remains relatively high. 
  • In August 2016, the unemployment rate estimate for Piute County measured 6.0 percent, more than 2 percentage points higher than the statewide average (3.7 percent). 
  • Yet, new unemployment insurance claims remain low with most claims so far this year originating in construction. 
  • The county’s average monthly wage continued to eke out gains as the year progressed. Second-quarter’s year-over gain of nearly 5 percent kept wages in 2016 trending upward. 
  • Piute County’s gross taxable sales managed modest gains. Between the second quarters o 2015 and 2016, sales increased by almost 3 percent. 
  • A notable decrease in food/beverage store sales contributed to a decline in overall retail sales. 
  • Interestingly, private motor vehicle sales generated the largest sales-dollar increase during the quarter.

Millard County Economic Update

Millard County’s labor market rallied from a lackluster performance earlier in the year with notable improvement throughout the second quarter of 2016. While the public sector provided much of the job increases, most industries added workers and the few job losses proved minor. After an unseasonal summer increase in first-time claims for unemployment insurance, the county experienced an uptick in joblessness. However, by September unemployment had retreated to its previously low level. In addition, strong nonresidential permitting has kept new building values on the high side. While sales growth proved rather lukewarm, in general, Millard County’s economic indicators provide an upbeat portrait of the area’s economy.

  • Millard County’s nonfarm jobs bounced back in the second quarter of 2016. Between June 2015 and June 2016, the county added nearly 150 new jobs for a strong 3.5 percent growth rate.
  • Much of the improvement occurred in the public sector. However, construction also managed hearty job gains. 
  •  Professional/business services, private education/healthcare/social services and leisure/hospitality services also contributed to the overall expansion with less flashy gains. 
  • Relatively minor job losses in wholesale trade and information counterbalanced only a small portion of job gains. 
  • After a slight spring and early summer uptick, Millard County's jobless rate returned to the lower rates of early 2016. 
  • At 3.4 percent, unemployment remains very low in August 2016. 
  • First-time claims for unemployment insurance took an unseasonal spike in late spring and summer but had settled back to a more normal pattern by mid-September. 
  • The construction industry contributed the largest number of new claims so far in 2016. Average wages continued to improve as the year progressed. 
  • The average wage for second quarter 2015 showed a healthy 4-percent gain over the same figure for second quarter 2016. 
  • New nonresidential permitting took the lead in the vast improvement in construction permitting values for the first eight months of 2016. 
  • Solar farm permitting as well as permits for several retail buildings contributed to the strong gain in authorized values. 
  • Gross taxable sales improved by a rather lackluster 2.2 percent between the second quarters of 2015 and 2016. 
  • A notable decline in manufacturing business investment expenditures kept a lid on overall sales. 
  • On the flip side, expenditures mining counteracted part of the manufacturing decrease. In addition,sales at retail establishments showed gains.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Show Me the Economy

New Occupational Projections Available

Mark Knold, Supervising Economist
 “The government knows everything about everyone.” 

 Fortunately, that statement is not true. Yet society still looks to the government to provide answers to comprehensive and complex questions that have their foundation within individual decisions and activities. One subject frequently directed toward the government is individual-level information about the economy — particularly, what occupations are in demand, what occupations pay well and have lucrative outlooks, and ultimately, what occupation(s) should I build my career upon?

It takes the accumulation of a wide array of individual information to answer these questions. Employers provide the foundation information about the occupations they employ. Jobs are held by individuals, but employers provide the profile information about the job itself, not any particular individual.

Since society desires to profile such a broad spectrum of the economy — occupational profiles and the occupational distribution within the economy — only government is in the unique position to collect, analyze and provide answers for said desire. Yet, no government program or regulatory agency mandates any comprehensive occupational reporting from individuals or businesses. Therefore, government attempts to fill the void with an ongoing, robust and voluntary survey of employers — a survey where employers are asked to provide details about their various occupations, including descriptions, quantities, wages/salaries and location. Through this survey emerges an occupational portrait of an economy.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) structures and funds the survey, yet the individual states conduct the survey. Under BLS administration, all states use the same methodology; therefore, occupational profiles are comparable across states.

Through this survey, analysts discover how industries are populated with various occupations. Accountant is an occupation, yet accountants can be found across many different industries. Other occupations may be more exclusive to certain industries; for example, doctors are largely found only in the healthcare industry. One of the survey’s products is that industries can be profiled with their general mix of occupations. This is called an industry’s occupational staffing pattern.

This brings us back to the original questions: what occupations are in demand, what occupations pay well and have lucrative outlooks, and ultimately, what occupation(s) should I build my career upon? The foundation is to make informed forecasts about how industries will expand/contract over the next 10 years. By applying existing occupational staffing patterns to each industry’s projected change, a trained economic analyst can then make an extrapolation about how occupations will correspondingly increase/decrease. Knowledgeable analyst judgment further refines the occupational expectations, such as knowing an occupation will grow faster than in the past, with the result being a set of occupational projections that accumulate to profile a state or regional economy.

A new set of occupational projections are done every two years to keep the information fresh even though economies do not change dramatically in short order. Because of slow change, updated occupational projects generally continue the overall message of preceding occupational projections. But economies do modify with time, and therefore, subtle changes will arise with each new set of occupational projections.

Utah’s most recent occupational projections are found here: These projections look forward to the year 2024.

The occupational profile is structured from the general to the detailed, mimicking the structure of a family tree. First, broad occupational categories are defined, such as management or healthcare occupations; then, subcategories are defined; and finally, individual occupations are defined. Individual occupations are the heart of the occupational projections. But overall patterns and characteristics do emerge when observing the broader categories.

While a Utah statewide profile leads the way, Utah’s local economies are not homogenous; therefore, nine Utah subregions are also profiled. Due to confidentiality restraints and statistical reliability, the amount of occupations available will diminish the smaller a subregion; but, occupations comprising the backbone of a regional economy will be available.

Central Region 

Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist 

The Central Utah projection region consists of Millard, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier and Wayne counties. Central Utah’s employment base is expected to growth at an average annual rate of 1.1 percent between 2014 and 2024. While that rate of expansion is the second-slowest in the state and falls far below the Utah average of 2.7 percent, slower expansion is not uncommon among Utah’s less-populated areas.

Over the 10-year projection period, Central Utah is expected to create 850 job openings each year. Slower-than-average growth means the need to replace workers leaving occupations will likely generate 66 percent of these openings, while new openings from growth will account for only 34 percent. Statewide, new growth is expected to produce a larger share (54 percent) of total openings.

Occupational groups with the largest current employment are expected to also generate the largest number of job openings between 2014 and 2024. Food preparation/serving and sales occupations should show the highest number of openings in Central Utah. These occupations also tend to have high replacement needs. Other occupations projected to show many openings include transportation/material moving, office/administrative support (e.g., clerical), education/training/library and management. On the other hand, the fastest growth occupational groups should be construction/extraction (e.g., mining) and production occupations.

Two occupational groups, architecture/engineering and community/social service are expected to experience slight declines in employment although they will still produce openings because of replacement needs. Other slow growing occupations include legal, protective service, office/administrative support and personal care/service occupations. Despite a low growth rate, office/administrative support occupations will still supply a large number of openings due to current employment levels and replacement needs.

Because many jobs in the Central Utah economy currently require little education and many of these positions have high replacement needs, jobs requiring a high school education or less are expected to account for 71 percent of total openings. Jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or a high school education should show the fastest growth rates.

Individual occupations projected to produce a high volume of openings in Central Utah often pay lower-than-average wages. This is a pattern common statewide. For example, in Central Utah fast food workers, cashiers, waiters/waitresses and janitors rank among the highest opening-producing occupations. However, general/operations managers, transportation managers, heavy truck drivers, registered nurses and school teachers should also produce a large number of openings in the area.

In an attempt to help provide career guidance, the Department of Workforce Services has attached star ratings to most occupations. These ratings take into account both employment opportunities (openings and growth rate) and wages. In Central Utah, a wide variety of occupations received the five-star rating, which denotes the best employment outlook and wages in the area. The list runs the gamut from registered nurses to accountants to heavy truck drivers. For more information about star ratings detailed occupational projections, see the links in the data visualization.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Conservation groups stall coal lease

A handful of conservation groups have stalled U.S. Bureau of Land Management plans to offer a lease on the huge Green Hollows coal tract, located in the far southeast corner of Sanpete County and spilling over into Sevier County.

According to a statement released by the BLM on Sept. 12, Wild Earth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Grand Canyon Trust and the Sierra Club filed an appeal and petition for stay with the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA).

Their appeal is primarily based on concerns regarding sage-grouse habitat and leasing procedure. The primary contender for a Green Hollows lease was Bowie Resources, operator of the nearby SUFCO Mine. If Bowie’s plan to develop Green Hollows were to be realized, coal mining in Sanpete and Sevier counties could increase significantly, creating scores of mining and mining-related jobs. Sanpete Messenger