Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Wayne County Economic Update

Wayne County slipped back to its job-losing ways as 2014 came to an end. The county’s labor market has struggled since it lost its largest employer in 2011. Mitigating the loss somewhat, the current declines proved relatively minor. Nevertheless, downward movement in Wayne County’s unemployment rate has stalled and the rate has even ticked up in recent months. In addition, sales dropped substantially in the final quarter of the year. An improvement in construction permitting provided the most positive economic news. Overall, the county’s current economic indicators are limping along awaiting further improvement.

  • Wayne County lost 13 nonfarm jobs between December 2013 and December 2014 for a slight decline of 1.5 percent. 
  • A spurt in construction industry employment basically offset losses in the county’s leisure and hospitality services. 
  • Wayne County’s unemployment rate stood at 9.0 percent in March 2015, the highest level in Utah. 
  • Although joblessness has edged upward in recent months, the rate remains slightly below the year-ago figure of 9.4 percent. 
  • In the first few months of 2015, first-time claims for unemployment insurance followed a seasonal pattern. 
  • Most new claims originated in the construction and leisure/hospitality industries. 
  • Between the fourth quarters of 2013 and 2014, Wayne County’s gross taxable sales dipped by 12 percent. 
  • A drop in wholesale trade coupled with a prior-quarter adjustment accounted for much of the decline in sales. 
  • Retail trade, food services and accommodations all exhibited gains. 
  • In comparison to the previous year, construction permit values rose 11 percent. 
  • Both new residential and new nonresidential values increased nicely. 
  • Over the previous four years, Wayne County’s population has decreased by nearly 60 individuals due to net out-migration.

Sevier County Economic Update

While Sevier County’s employment gains may seem rather humdrum, the gradual gains have persisted for the entire year of 2014. That’s a welcome change from the very scarce job increases of 2013. Employment expansion has spurred joblessness to creep ever lower. Moreover, sales improved nicely and construction permitting is up from 2013. While the county’s economy isn’t ablaze with activity, slow-and-steady improvements may win the long-term race. However, the county’s job gains must spread to most industries before the labor market is considered entirely fit.

  • Year-over job growth in Sevier County measured 71 positions and almost 1 percent in December 2014. 
  • Retail trade, mining and professional/business services created most of the new employment. 
  • On the dark side, both construction and transportation took notable job hits. 
  • Employment gains proved ample enough to keep Sevier County’s unemployment trending downward. 
  • In March 2015, the county’s jobless rate measured only 4.1 percent; a sign the economy is approaching full employment. 
  • First-time claims for unemployment insurance for the first few months of 2015 remained low with construction and professional/business services (which includes “temp” agencies) generating the most new claims. 
  • Gross taxable sales shot up 27 percent between the fourth quarters of 2013 and 2014. 
  • Extremely large business-investment expenditures can be credited for much of the increase. 
  • Retail trade made healthy gains over the past year. 
  • Fourth quarter 2014 new car and truck sales increased 3 percent compared to sales a year earlier. 
  • Overall, construction permitting values rose 15 percent in 2014. 
  • The majority of the increase in construction permit values can be traced to a large nonresidential addition, alteration and repair project. 
  • Both new nonresidential and new residential permit values dropped dramatically. 
  • In 2014, Sevier County’s population contracted by approximately 70 people as the result of net out-migration.

Sanpete County Economic Update

Sanpete County ended the year with a nice, moderate job gain. After losing jobs for roughly a year, the county seems to have regained its employment footing in mid-2014. Industry gains appear fairly broad-based and sufficient to keep unemployment on a downward path. In addition, unemployment insurance claims remain low and sales strong. The only blot on this otherwise healthy economic portrait is a notable slowdown in construction permitting.

  • Between December 2013 and December 2014, Sanpete County created 245 net new jobs for a growth rate of more than 3 percent. 
  • Manufacturing and government generated the largest number of new positions with significant assistance from construction, retail trade, professional/business services and leisure/hospitality services. 
  • Three industries – mining, healthcare, transportation – did experience notable employment declines. 
  • Joblessness in Sanpete County continued to trend downward to register at 3.9 percent in March 2015. 
  • Currently, unemployment in Sanpete County registers at the lowest level in six years. 
  • In the first few months of 2015, first-time claims for unemployment insurance remained in an abbreviated seasonal pattern. 
  • Sanpete County’s gross taxable sales increased by almost 12 percent between the fourth quarters of 2013 and 2014. 
  • Strong sales in the business investment category provided a boost along with retail sales gains. 
  • New car and truck sales decreased slightly (5 percent) between the fourth quarters of 2013 and 2014. 
  • Construction permitting apparently slowed dramatically in 2014. 
  • New residential and nonresidential values dropped decidedly when compared to 2013. 
  • With a slight 0.8-percent increase in 2014 population, only Sanpete County experienced a population gain among the counties of central Utah. 
  • However, even in Sanpete County, roughly 300 more residents have left the county than have moved to it since 2010.

Piute County Economic Update

An upwelling in public sector employment during fourth quarter 2014 propelled Piute County into positive nonfarm job-growth territory for only the second time since the end of the recession. The additional jobs provide a respite from the almost steady stream of job loss that has afflicted the county over the past several years. However, several quarters of improvement will be necessary to signal a recovering economy. Indeed, joblessness has edged upward during recent months and measures above desirable levels. Strong sales performance provides the best economic news for the county.

  • In the final month of 2014, Piute County showed a 9-job, 4-percent year-over gain in nonfarm employment. 
  • Local government accounted for almost all the county’s additional jobs and offset a notable decline in leisure/hospitality services employment. 
  • In March 2015, Piute County’s unemployment rate measured 6.4 percent. 
  • After an uptick in late 2014, joblessness has subsided slightly. 
  • In the first few months of 2015, Piute County’s initial claims for unemployment insurance followed a low seasonal pattern. 
  • Between the fourth quarters of 2013 and 2014, Piute County’s gross taxable sales increased by a whopping29 percent. 
  • Most of the sales improvement resulted from business investment spending and an adjustment for a previous quarter. Nevertheless, retail trade and leisure/hospitality services showed moderate sales increases. 
  • During 2014, Piute County showed the highest rate of population decline (2.6 percent) in Utah. 
  • Between 2010 and 2014, Piute County’s population has decreased by more than 70 persons as out-migration continued to plague the area.

Millard County Economic Update

Although like most rural counties, Millard County’s rate of job growth rarely follows a straight-line trajectory, the county has consistently added new jobs over the past two years. This impressive track record continued as 2014 came to a close. The county’s relatively moderate employment expansion has proved sufficient to drive down joblessness to a very low level. In addition, both sales and construction showed strong performances. Overall, the economy remains healthier than most of its rural neighbors.


  • Between December 2013 and December 2014, Millard County added more than 70 new nonfarm jobs for a growth rate of roughly 2 percent. 
  • Additionally, 20-plus jobs were added in covered agriculture (not included in the total). 
  • Growth appeared relatively broad-based with trade, information, private education/health services and leisure/hospitality services generating notable numbers of new positions. 
  • Construction, manufacturing and other services contracted somewhat. 
  • Millard County’s jobless rate remains low at 3.3 percent in March 2015. 
  • The county’s unemployment rate measures below the state rate, an unusual situation for a rural county. 
  • First-time claims for unemployment insurance did show an unusual construction related uptick in March 2015. 
  • During 2014, construction permitting appeared on a strong footing with a notable increase in dwelling unit permits and new nonresidential construction. 
  • Approved permit values in 2014 registered 24-percent higher than in 2013. 
  • An unusually large prior-period adjustment resulted in a stunning 34-percent increase in gross taxable sales between the fourth quarters of 2013 and 2014. 
  • Retail trade sales and a large upsurge in business investment expenditures also contributed to the overall gain in sales. 
  • Fourth-quarter new car and truck sales dropped 18 percent in comparison with year-ago figures. 
  • According to the Census Bureau estimates, Millard County’s population declined by roughly 20 persons during 2014. 
  • However, since 2010, the county’s overall population has increased somewhat despite net out-migration.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Updated Economic Snapshots

New three-page snapshots contain narrative at the bottom for more perspective of the data in a monthly look at employment, unemployment, wages construction, and sales for each county in Utah. Some data updated less frequently, as available.

For the latest economic snapshot for your county, check out the updated files on our website for Millard, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier, and Wayne counties.

Note: refreshing browser may be necessary for current information. 

    Friday, April 17, 2015

    Utah's Employment Situation for March 2015

    Utah's Employment Situation for March 2015 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 May 22, 2015.

    Tuesday, April 14, 2015

    Project could transform local coal market to international

    The Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund Board approved some $53 million in loan funding for a project that would allow four counties — Sevier, Sanpete, Carbon and Emery — to purchase an interest in a port that is under development in Oakland, Calif. The funding was approved during a CIB meeting hosted in Salt Lake City Thursday in an 8-2 vote.

    The proposal is for the CIB’s $50 million to be used to pay for a portion of the construction of a $250 million shipping port in Oakland. While CIB money would be used to fund the infrastructure, the four participating counties wouldn’t own the facility. Instead, they would own the right to use 49 percent of the port’s capacity for trans-Pacific shipping. Richfield Reaper

    Wednesday, April 8, 2015

    Local Insights updated on the web

    By Mark Knold, Supervising Economist

    The Rob Lowe quote is designed to be humorous. Is the best way to get answers about an entire population to not question the entire population but instead only part of it?

    When we hear “census,” we often think of the once-every-ten-year questioning as mandated by the Constitution. In that context though, we often think of “census” as an event instead of what it is—an enumeration.

    A census targets an entire population. In contrast, if that is impractical or impossible, then a smaller portion (a survey) of the population needs serve as a viable substitute. Rob Lowe’s humor stems from the idea that when we do the national decennial Census, much of the data comes from a survey. To him, that is an oxymoron...

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    To read more, see the latest issues of Local Insights. To receive a printed copy, please call 801-526-9785.

    Printed copies expected between April 13th - April 17th.