Sanpete County is one of the few nonurban counties outside the oil and gas fields of the Uintah Basin to be solidly on an expansionary track. In particular, its employment picture has improved dramatically over the past 12 months. Here’s a quick-and-dirty look at the county’s economic indicators:
• Between June 2011 and June 2012, Sanpete County’s nonfarm jobs expanded at a robust 5.6 percent—2 percentage points higher than the statewide average. The year-to-year addition of just less than 400 net new jobs follows the earlier trend set as the county entered 2012.
• This isn’t a one-industry wonder. Most of the counties major industries are sharing in current growth.
• Manufacturing and public sector gains proved particularly strong. However, retail trade, transportation, private education/healthcare/social, leisure/hospitality services, and professional/business services all generated at least 30 jobs each.
• Only three major industries registered employment contractions—information, wholesale trade, and financial activities—and the declines in wholesale trade and information proved minor.
• As jobs expand and the labor market adjusts, Sanpete unemployment rates continue to edge down. In August 2012, the county’s jobless rate stood at 7.2 percent. While somewhat higher than the statewide average of 5.8 percent, Sanpete generally runs higher unemployment rates because of seasonality in its labor market.
• There is one blot on this otherwise rosy economic picture. Construction permitting activity has yet to improve. For the first six months of the year, new home permits are down a whopping 84 percent and total permit values have slipped by 73 percent. On the other hand, construction employment itself shows improvement? Most public construction projects (roads, public buildings) are not permitted which most likely accounts for the seemingly discordant figures.
• Gross taxable sales continued to reflect economic expansion. Compared to the second quarter of 2011, second quarter 2012 sales are up by more than 8 percent. This marks the fifth straight quarter of improving sales.