Thursday, April 18, 2013

Millard County Economic Update

The release of new fourth quarter employment figures shows Millard County departing the job-growth/job-loss roller coaster ride caused by the influx and outflow of jobs resulting from major construction projects. And, the county has exited that ride to find itself back in the moderate job-growth mode.

Most other economic indicators show an improving economy. The lone exception? As in many rural areas, construction has yet to rebound. Here are the details:

  • Between December 2011 and December 2012, Millard County’s nonfarm jobs grew by roughly 3 percent marking a net gain of more than 110 jobs. 
  • The current expansion proved quite broad-based—another sign of economy well-being. Most major industries added employment. Plus, those few industry jobs losses proved minor. 
  • Professional/business services created the largest number of new positions with manufacturing, wholesale trade and the public sector each contributing between 15 and 20 new jobs. 
  • Joblessness continued to decline in response to an improved job market. In February 2013, the county’s unemployment rate clocked in at only 4.6 percent—unusually low for a rural county. In fact, Millard County’s jobless rate measures below both the state (5.2 percent) and national (7.7 percent) averages. 
  • So far in 2013, first-time claims for unemployment insurance seem to have established a typical seasonal pattern rather than one reflective of a job-shedding economy. 
  • Construction remains the one holdout in the improving economy. In Millard County, every single construction permitting category showed a decrease in values during 2012. Of course, although new home permits dropped by 48 percent in 2012, these figures are compared to a nice surge in new home construction that occurred in 2011. 
  • New nonresidential values also dropped by 42 percent. Overall, total permit-approved values declined by 45 percent. 
  • Fourth quarter gross taxable sales increased by a healthy 8-percent (year-over-year). While this is only the second straight gain in sales since early 2011, gross taxable sales also reflected the up-and-down business spending connected to the large construction projects. 
  • Millard County cars sales rose a whopping 44 percent in fourth quarter 2012 following a general improving trend.