Monday, April 11, 2011

Central Utah--How's the economy doing?

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I'm always nagging that nonfarm job growth (or lack there of) is the best indicator of a local economy's health. Since we've just got our first look at jobs for the fourth quarter of 2010, I thought I'd share. At year-end, two counties in central Utah have moved from recovery to expansion. On the other hand, three counties have yet to make the leap to job growth.

Millard County
Millard County finished out the 2010 with six full months of employment expansion. Between December 2009 and 2010, the county has added almost 280 net new jobs--an unusual increase of almost 7 percent. While most of that growth resulted from an influx of temporary construction jobs, this is by no means a one-industry wonder. Mining, manufacturing, retail trade and private education/health social services all showed significant employment gains. The only job losses of note occurred in leisure/hospitality services. Interestingly, Millard County's current employment situation is much better now than pre-recession. Millard County Economic Snapshot

Piute County
Piute County failed to generate an employment gain in the fourth quarter of 2010. Except for a brief one-month flirtation with no job loss, the county has experienced a long tw0-year stint of job loss. In December 2010, the year-over loss stood at 3.5 percent (down 11 jobs). Fortunately, if the current trends hold, the county appears to be moving toward job growth in 2011. While construction employment in the county jumped dramatically, those gains were more than offset by job declines in mining and retail trade. Most industries showed very little employment change. Piute County Economic Snapshot

Sanpete County
The term "jobless recovery" seems to hold true for Sanpete County. Although job losses hit their lowest point in July 2009 (the typical end of a recession/beginning of recovery), the county has struggled with consistent job losses ever since. Fourth quarter 2010 did bring a slight abatement in the level of job loss. However, whether this trend will continue is certainly not guaranteed. Between December 2009 and 2010, Sanpete County lost more than 250 jobs--a decrease of 3.5 percent. A huge decline in retail trade jobs accounted for the lion's share of this decline. However, construction, manufacturing, and leisure/hospitality services also felt the sting of notable job losses. And, while a few industries did add jobs, the gains proved relatively small. Sanpete County Economic Snapshot

Sevier County
After experiencing its worst job losses in mid-2009, Sevier County has consistently pulled itself toward job growth. By July 2010, the county had managed its first year-to-year employment expansion. By December 2010, the county had made a net year-over gain of almost 170 jobs for a 2.2 percent increase. Sevier County has basically followed the pattern of both the U.S. and Utah when it comes to nonfarm jobs. However, its growth rates have proved somewhat stronger. Of course, not every industry is sharing in the current growth. Both retail trade and professional/business services took fairly substantial employment hits over the past year. But, most industries are expanding nicely. Job gains are particularly strong in transportation with manufacturing, private education/health/social services, and leisure/hospitality services also pitching in. Sevier County Economic Snapshot

Wayne County
While Wayne county experienced job growth for most of 2010, by year-end that growth had evaporated and the county was once again losing jobs. Between December 2009 and 2010, the losses weren't extravagant--1.5 percent and 14 jobs. However, the announcement of the closure of Aspen Health programs in the county portends significant employment contraction (almost 200 jobs) in the upcoming year. As of December 2010, mining construction, and retail trade employment showed notable declines with the leisure/hospitality industry made the only significant job gains. Wayne county. Wayne County Economic Snapshot