Tuesday, July 10, 2012

First Quarter 2012 preliminary jobs data available for central Utah

The first quarter of 2012 found most central Utah counties still struggling to obtain a strong employment footing. In fact, of the five counties in the region, only one—Sanpete County—experienced year-to-year growth in nonfarm employment. Since employment growth is the best local indicator of economic well-being, these figures suggest that most of the area has yet to recover. In fact, both Piute and Wayne counties showed some of the worst continued job deterioration in the state. 

Millard County started 2012 with a continuation of the employment slide that started in mid-2011. Between March 2011 and March 2012, nonfarm jobs dropped by more than 4 percent. Of course a lion’s share of this job loss can be attributed to the completion of a construction project which pumped up employment a year earlier rather than to any enduring economic problem. On the other hand, many other industries joined in the employment contraction. Most notably, manufacturing and leisure/hospitality services took decided employment hits. And on the other side of the ledger, only professional/business services and transportation contributed any new nonfarm employment worth noting. On the other hand, agricultural employment covered by administrative data collection showed some of the strongest employment gains. 

Piute County’s employment situation remained depressed. Although the rate of job loss contracted somewhat, employment reductions remained significant during the first quarter of 2012. Nonfarm employment for March 2012 was down more than 10 percent from a year ago. While most major industries held steady, healthcare/social services, leisure/hospitality services, and the public sector all lost jobs. Only one industry—trade/transportation/utilities—generated a (four) job gain. 

Sanpete County was late to economic recovery. However in the first quarter of 2012, it proved the only county in central Utah to experience employment expansion. Plus, once engaged in the process of creating jobs, it has steadily improved. With 5-percent March 2011 to March 2012 growth, Sanpete County far outstrips gains state and nationwide. Moreover, Sanpete County’s current expansion is no one-industry wonder. Most major industries added employment. Only wholesale trade, information, and financial activities contracted. Some of the largest job gains occurred in manufacturing, leisure/hospitality services, and private education/health/social services. In addition, construction, retail trade, transportation, professional/business services, and government all generated 25 or more new jobs. 

Although Sevier County entered experienced job growth as early as mid-2010, it found itself with a slight employment decline in the first quarter of 2012. True, the loss measured a mere 0.1 percent (eight jobs). However, layoffs have recently undercut what was once a promising recovery. The county’s major industries aligned themselves on opposite sides of the job gain and loss tally. Notable job-losers included retail trade, construction, information, financial activities and the public sector. Transportation, manufacturing, other services and whole trade appeared among the major job winners. 

Wayne County’s employment numbers continued to be dogged by the loss of its largest employer (Aspen Education Group). Between March 2011 and March 2012, Wayne County’s nonfarm employment dropped by 16 percent—the worst performance of any county in Utah. Not surprisingly, private education/health/social services accounted for almost all the job losses. Unfortunately, little job growth occurred among the county’s other major industries. Leisure/hospitality services made the largest donation to the county’s labor market with roughly 30 net new jobs. 

You can access more detailed data by selecting your county from the list here, and clicking on the Current Economic Snapshot and Nonfarm Employment links. 

Be sure to use the interactive visualization below to check out your individual county's employment history.