Thursday, April 27, 2017

Census Bureau Tool Provides Labor-Force Insight for Utah

By Mark Knold and Lecia Langston

Across the United States, jobs are quantified through each state’s unemployment insurance program. Those programs provide the potential for laid-off workers to receive unemployment benefits — the goal being to bridge the gap between workers’ lost jobs and their next jobs. An eligible recipient’s weekly benefit amount is based upon their earnings from recent work. This begs the question, how does Utah’s unemployment insurance program know how much an individual recently earned while working?

That answer is supplied by all businesses that hire workers, as they must report their employees and pay as mandated by the unemployment insurance laws. Companies identify their individual workers and those workers’ monetary earnings for a calendar quarter. As businesses are identified by their industrial activity and geographic location, it is through the unemployment insurance program that aggregate employment counts by industry and location are calculated.

Yet each state’s profiling of individuals is quite minimal in the unemployment insurance program. The U.S. Census Bureau can bring more light to the overall labor force by supplementing said information with gender, age, race/ethnicity and educational attainment (imputted from American Community Survey responses) for Utah’s labor force.

The Census Bureau packages this information through their Local Employment Dynamics program and makes available said data on its website. Here at the Department of Workforce Services, we recently downloaded and packaged Utah-specific data from said website and summarized it in the attached visualization.

Various data “tabs” are available, presenting Utah’s economy from different angles, ranging from industry shares within the economy to the age-group distributions of the labor force, to gender and race distributions. These labor variables can be viewed for the state as a whole, or by each individual county.

Health Insurance: Who’s covered in Utah?

Census Bureau Estimates Provide Answers about Utah Health Insurance Coverage

By Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist

“Most Americans want health insurance.” Jacob Lew

The U.S. Census Bureau just published its Small Area Health Insurance Estimates (SAHIE) for counties and states while the national discussion on health care laws receives renewed attention. Is this a coincidence? Yes, but a timely one. This post examines how health insurance coverage for Utahns has changed and also the demographics of who has coverage and who does not.

Tracking Utahns Under 65 Years of Age

Small Area Health Insurance Estimates cover the population under 65 years of age. Of course, virtually all residents 65 and older are covered by government-provided Medicare. Because the estimates date back to 2008, two years before the signing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the available figures provide an indication of the effect of the ACA on health insurance coverage in Utah and its counties.
More Utahns have Health Insurance

Between 2008 and 2015, the number of Utahns under 65 years old covered by health insurance increased by 284,000. Not only did the actual covered increase, but the share of non-senior population with health insurance also gained ground expanding from less than 84 percent to more than 88 percent — an increase of 4.7 percentage points.

Only Millard County experienced a very slight 0.3 percentage point decline in health insurance coverage although the actual number of persons covered increased by 113. Daggett, Rich, Kane and Grand counties showed the highest growth in under-65 coverage; each showed increases of at least 9 percentage points.

In 2015, counties in northern Utah generally showed the highest level of non-senior health insurance coverage. In Morgan, Davis, Box Elder, Tooele and Cache counties, health insurance rates top 90 percent. On the other end of the scale, rural counties in central and southern Utah display the lowest coverage. In San Juan, Millard, Duchesne and Wayne counties, health insurance rates for those under 65 measured 83 percent or less.

Those under 19 saw the greatest gains. Coverage rates for these young people increased from 87 percent in 2008 to 93 percent in 2015. Utah males experienced a larger gain in coverage between 2008 and 2015 (5 percentage points) than did females (4 percentage points), although females were more likely than men to carry health insurance in both years. Health insurance rates for those with the lowest incomes showed the most improvement (10.4 percentage points). However, their coverage shares remain roughly 10 points below average.

Wait, There’s More…

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Ephraim will get $55k from watershed protection program

The City of Ephraim will receive $55,000 from a national program aimed at repairing damage done by natural disasters, and protecting against future ones. The money is part of $5 million the National Resource Conservation Service (a division under the U.S. Department of Agriculture) is investing in Utah through its Emergency Watershed Protection Program, which aids communities in recovering from or preventing disasters. Ephraim City’s portion of the grant is slated for work to repair and prevent erosion of a debris basin above the city. Sanpete Messenger

ACT Aerospace expansion could bring 100 manufacturing jobs to Sanpete County

The owners of ACT Aerospace have made a proposal to the Gunnison City Council to buy 19 acres of city-owned property for a new production facility, which they said would create 100 jobs. The council voted unanimously to move forward with negotiating details of the land sale.

ACT has a potential partner company which has been contracting with aerospace parts producers overseas and wants to bring some of the contracts back to the United States. ACT currently manufactures parts for Bell Helicopter and Honda Aircraft. The expansion would enable the company to do the same kind of work on a larger scale. Sanpete Messenger

Rocky Mountain Power funding Sanpete Solar Project

Rocky Mountain Power has awarded Blue Sky funding for three renewable projects, including a contribution to a large solar array and battery storage system at North Sanpete Middle School in Moroni. The Sanpete Middle School will receive $576,224 to build a 206 kilowatt solar array, as well as a 32 kilowatt-hour battery storage system and electric vehicle charging station. The battery system will be charged using excess solar power during the day and help meet the school’s energy needs when the sun isn’t shining. Deseret News

Construction Continues on Snow College Science Building

Construction of Snow College’s long-awaited Robert M. and Joyce S. Graham Science Building is headed toward a tentative completion date of August 8, 2017. After receiving a $19.6 million appropriation from the 2015 Utah Legislature and about $3.5 million from private donors, the school had enough to fund the building. A ground breaking was held in November 2015.

Okland Construction of Salt Lake City has been working steadily to meet the tentative deadline. The 56,600 square-foot building will be comprised of two wings, one dedicated to laboratories and the other mostly for classrooms and offices. The wings will be connected by a glass bridge lined with study and lounge areas for students. Between the wings will be a courtyard, which will be designed with a water theme. Sanpete Messenger

Greens Hollow coal lease finalized

Federal officials have finalized a 55 million-ton coal lease in a deal that ensures continued operations of Utah's oldest and most productive coal mine. The owner of the Sufco mine in Sanpete and Sevier counties delivered the winning bid of nearly $23 million last January in a process billed as competitive even though no other bids were submitted on the 6,175-acre Greens Hollow tract under the Fishlake and Manti-La Sal national forests.

Greens Hollow is one of four major federal coal leases in the pipeline in Utah, including one near Bryce Canyon National Park needed to keep Alton's Coal Hollow mine going. Canyon Fuels Co., now owned by Bowie Resource Partners, proposed the Greens Hollow lease a decade ago so it's Sufco mine could continue its underground longwall operations, extracting high-Btu, low-sulfur coal. This lease is expected to return $194 million in royalties and taxes. Sufco is under contract to supply PacifiCorp's nearby Hunter and Huntington power plants through 2020. Salt Lake Tribune

Friday, March 31, 2017

U.S. Census Bureau releases 2016 county population estimates.

By Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist

“In a region with a growing population, if you’re doing nothing, you’re losing ground.” Stewart Udall

The Census Bureau just released population estimates for counties and metropolitan statistical areas across the United States. Yes, it was just a few months ago that Utah made headlines as the fastest-growing state in the nation. So, it should come as no surprise that several Utah sub-areas also appeared on the fastest-growing lists.

San Juan County ranked as the fastest growing county in the nation with a 2016 growth estimate of 7.6 percent. Keep in mind that less than 17,000 people live in the county. In other words, a small numeric change in this less-populated county can result in a large percent change.

In addition, three Utah regions ranked among the top 20 fastest-growing Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the country. The St. George, Utah MSA (sixth), Provo-Orem, Utah MSA (seventh) and the Logan, Utah-Idaho MSA (20th) all attained top-20 status. See additional information on the estimates after the “jump.”

Pick a Number, Any Number

Because the Census Bureau actually counts the population only once every decade, these figures are estimates. Plus, they aren’t the only estimates in town. The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute has recently assembled the Utah Population Committee (UPC) to reinstitute the population-estimates work previously conducted by the Utah Population Estimates Committee (UPEC). The estimates can be found here.

Census Bureau estimates use the same methodology in producing population figures for every county in the nation. Therefore, for nationwide comparisons, Census Bureau estimates may have the advantage. On the other hand, UPC population estimates have the benefit of local-analyst expertise and additional data sources.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Utah's Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates

Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for all Utah counties have been posted online here.

Each month, these rates are posted the Monday following the Unemployment Rate Update for Utah.

For more information about seasonally adjusted rates, read a DWS analysis here.

Next update scheduled for April 24th.