Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Brief Millard County Update

When it comes to construction employment related to large projects in smaller counties, what goes up, must come down. That is certainly the case for Millard County as it works its way through the loss of pipeline construction jobs. While construction wasn’t the only industry to contribute to contracting employment levels, it proved the major source of the current decline. In addition, other indicators failed to produce a convincing snapshot of a healthy economy. Here’s a wrap-up:
  • Millard County showed net employment losses of almost 60 jobs between June 2011 and June 2012. However, the accompanying 1.4 percent year-to-year decline does mark an improvement from early 2012 when job losses registered at the 5-percent level. Again most of this current spate of job contraction is related to the loss of temporary construction positions.
  • While construction displayed the largest job losses, it wasn’t alone in the job-loser category. Private education/health/social services, mining and the leisure/hospitality industry also lost significant numbers of payroll jobs.
  • However, expansion in manufacturing, wholesale trade and professions/business services offset a portion of the aforementioned losses with notable job gains.
  • The loss of those temporary construction positions had little effect on the county’s unemployment rate. In fact, the county’s unemployment rate brings its best economic news. Joblessness continues to trend downward. In August 2012, Millard County’s jobless rate registered a mere 4.5 percent—significantly below both the state and national averages. 
  • In addition, although summer is always a slow time for new unemployment insurance claims, Millard County’s new claims have slowed to just a dribble.
  • As in most of rural Utah, construction has yet to recover. The county did show a rash of homebuilding permits in 2011, but in the first half of 2012, home permits are down more than 50 percent. Nonresidential permitting isn’t picking up the slack—overall, permit values are down 63 percent for January to July 2012.
  • There’s no economic bright spot to be found in gross taxable sales. The second quarter 2012 sales drop of 3 percent marks the fifth straight quarter of declining sales. Part of the sales declines also relate to business expenditures related to construction. On a sunnier note, the county has exhibited three straight quarters of improved new car/truck sales.