Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Better, Faster, Smarter . . .Check out our new website design

Information is the treasure of the current age. The instant access to information since the advent of the Internet has transformed societies in ways that thousands of years prior had not. Information can lead to knowledge, and — with increased knowledge — better efficiencies and way of life. If information is vital, then the presentation of information has also risen to a prominent level.
With this, the Utah Department of Workforce Services has made some organizational improvements to its economic webpages. Various economic data categories are not mutually exclusive, but we made an effort to compartmentalize economic data for a better organizational display and navigation. We also added a new feature area that taps into various national data elements and measurements from the Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED), the database of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. FRED’s added value is national — and Utah — economic indicators. More on FRED’s contribution below.

Depending on the subject, economic data can be categorized as either broad or specific. For example, the demographic makeup of an area and how that impacts an economic structure is a broad-subject approach. Conversely, a current monthly snapshot of the Utah economy, its job growth and unemployment rate is a more specific observation. Our economic webpage has four “portals” through which to “categorize” and search for information. One portal is broad, while the other three are more specific in nature.

Topic Portals

The monthly employment profile just mentioned is a specific topic and gets its own “portal,” entitled Employment Update. Here, the most current Utah economic performance can be explored and summarized. The information found here is what often gets cited in the local news media in reference to the current Utah job performance and unemployment rate.

The second specific “portal” is labeled Local Insights. This is a quarterly profile of the Utah economy down to a county level. Each county is summarized with its own economic performance, including job growth, unemployment rate, housing starts, taxable sales and other profile variables. The common theme here is a county-specific approach.

The third specific “portal” is Reports and Analysis. Workforce Services’ economic forte is the labor market. Things over and above the everyday reporting on the labor market are presented here. Sometimes we do special economic studies, other times we will report on specific economic groups within the labor force, like women or veterans. Anything we do that is not an often repeated or ongoing report are grouped here.

The final “portal,” and possibly the one that will be most used, is labeled Economic Data. The core of our data collection and analysis is concentrated here. Employment data, occupational data, wage information and demographic profiles are just some of the major economic themes found in this area.

FRED's on site

As mentioned earlier, we have added an economic indicator area tapping into FRED, which is a massive compilation of economic data from various sources — primarily government statistical agencies, but also some nongovernmental organizations. Workforce Services economists have gone through the list and selected a handful of the most useful data series for gauging the performance of Utah’s macro economy and gaining insights into expected trends. Utah functions within the national economy, so the national economic indicators profiled here are intended to also be guiding influences on the Utah economy. These indicators include composite indexes; a recession probability indicator; leading indicators, such as construction permits and the yield curve; coincident indicators, such as real GDP and employment; and price indicators, such as the consumer price index, regional housing prices, and oil and gas prices. Each chart has a detailed description of what the data represent and how they may be useful.

Keeping relevant with the fast-changing pace of the Internet and data presentation is our goal at Workforce Services. We hope these changes help to better present our broad package of economic data offerings.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

New parking planned for the Sevier Valley Center

Numerous entities and individuals have been in the process of securing the land and funding for additional parking at the Sevier Valley Center. The $1.4 million project will add some 320 parking stalls to the area. Last year, the legislature allocated roughly $400,000 to the project and an addition $1 million request is scheduled to go before the Utah State Building Board. Richfield Reaper

New Delta fire station nearly complete

After more than 50 years working out of its station at 41 N 200 W, the Delta Fire Department will move one block to the east in about two months. The date for completion of the building is Feb. 8. The cost of the 18,000-squarefoot building is about $3 million with $2.3 million coming from grant money. The fire department has been planning the building for more than 10 years. Millard County Chronicle Progress

Greens Hollow coal tract draws sealed bid of nearly $23 million

A huge coal tract in central Utah that survived a federal three-year moratorium on any new coal leasing drew a sealed bid of nearly $23 million in a lease sale. The Greens Hollow tract in Sevier and Sanpete counties is nearly 6,200 acres of national forest land with estimated coal reserves of about 56 million tons. Coal on federal land is administered by the Bureau of Land Management, which held the sale after a federal appeals board rejected a challenge by environmental groups.

The winning bidder was Canyon Fuels Co., which operates the nearby Sufco Mine — Utah's largest coal mine. Canyon Fuels is owned by Bowie Resources. Although the results are preliminary, the successful lease sale of the coal reserves means Sufco, which has other federal leases, can expand and continue operations for years to come. Sufco is one of the nation's longest continuously running longwall mines in the country. An environmental analysis said the Greens Hollow tract will extend the life of the mine by nine years. Deseret News

Monday, January 23, 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 March 6th.

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.