The U.S. Census Bureau has just released its 2014 population estimates for counties and metro areas. Utah’s own St. George UT metro area placed fifth nationwide with a population growth rate of 2.9 percent. On the other hand, in central Utah, contracting population proved a major theme. The following visualization provides downloadable population estimates as well as the components of population change for Utah’s counties.
• In central Utah, only Sanpete County experienced population growth in 2014.
• During 2014, Piute County showed the highest rate of population decline (2.6 percent) in Utah.
• 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.
• Between 2010 and 2014, Piute County’s population has decreased by more than 70 persons as out-migration continued to plague the area.
• Sanpete County may have benefited from a population spillover effect from the Wasatch Front. Its population growth record is the best in central Utah. However, even in Sanpete County, roughly 300 more residents have left the county than have moved to it since 2010.
• Sevier County has presented a checkered population performance since the decade began. In 2014, the county’s population contracted by approximately 70 people as the result of net out-migration.
• Wayne County has also lost a fairly steady stream of residents over the previous four years. Over the previous four years, the county’s population has decreased by nearly 60 individuals.
Department of Corrections officials have broken ground on a $30 million expansion of the existing 1,600-inmate facility in Gunnison. Upon completion in August 2016, it will add an additional 192 beds and require 76 more employees. Presently, the central Utah prison employs about 350 with an annual payroll of $26 million. Most live in the six-county region encompassing Juab, Millard, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier and Wayne counties. Salt Lake Tribune
While Sevier County seems to have shaken off the job losses of 2013, recently-released nonfarm jobs numbers show a rather tepid third-quarter 2014 performance. The county did average a year-over gain of more the 130 jobs for the quarter, although September showed the weakest increase. Moreover, pockets of industry-level job loss remain. The current level of employment creation still managed to shrink the county’s jobless level to a level not seen since before the recession. Only a decline in gross taxable sales pitches a slight shadow on this recovering economy.
Recently-released employment data shows that Sanpete County has dug
itself out of the job-loss pit of late 2013 to early 2014. While the
monthly figures were not consistently strong, they do offer a welcome
improvement from prior quarters. Moreover, most industries contributed
to the job creation. Concurrently, the county’s jobless rate continued
on the downward track reaching the level generally considered “full
employment.” Sales followed the same basic pattern as job growth with a
healthy third-quarter gain—just one more indicator of an improving
Playing on its economic theme of recent years, Millard County continued to show moderate employment growth in the third quarter of 2014. While not particularly flashy, Millard County’s employment growth has proved sufficient to drive its unemployment rate down below the state average. In addition, while Millard County’s third-quarter 2014 gross taxable sale dipped noticeably, the source of the decline was in the volatile business investment category rather than in retail sales. All in all, the county remains economic vigorous while avoiding the “boom” zone.