Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sanpete County Economic Update

Although its employment growth rates slowed somewhat in the fourth quarter, Sanpete County remains one of the few nonmetro counties to display a fully expansionary economy. Job growth rates have slowed from county’s peak figure of roughly 6 percent at midyear to closer to 3 percent in fourth quarter. However, the current moderate rate of expansion appears more sustainable in the long run than the overheated speed of expansion earlier in the year.

With the exception of construction, other economic indicators support the pattern in employment expansion. Let’s look at the details.

  • Between December 2011 and December 2012, Sanpete County’s nonfarm employment grew by 2.8 percent representing an increase of almost 200 net new jobs. 
  • While most major industries joined in the job creation club, a notable number slipped into job loss territory. The most significant loss occurred in retail trade. 
  • On the up side, manufacturing added more than 100 new positions, private education/social services contributed 60 jobs and construction increased payrolls by more than 40. 
  • Following the trend across most of Utah, Sanpete County jobless rate continued to edge downward. In February 2012, the jobless rate measured 7.1 percent—down half a percentage point from February 2011. Currently, the county’s rate is sandwiched between the U.S. average (7.7 percent) and the statewide figure (5.2 percent). Keep in mind that a seasonal component in the labor market will keep the seasonally adjusted rate at a higher-than-average level over time. 
  • For the most part, 2013 first-time claims for unemployment insurance are running below 2012 levels. On an industry basis, construction, manufacturing, and professional/business services (which include temporary agencies) showed the highest number of new claims. 
  • Fourth quarter 2012 gross taxable sales increased by a nice moderate 4 percent compared with the same quarter in 2011. Sales in the county have improved steadily for the past seven quarters. 
  • Construction is the one lone holdout from the recession. Sanpete County home permits dropped 49 percent in 2012. The county did experience some home-building improvement in 2010, but was unable to sustain the trend. On the other hand, while new nonresidential permitting dropped during 2012, nonresidential additions/alterations/repairs popped up by more than 280 percent accounting for almost one-fourth of total permit values. Nevertheless, overall permit values contracted by 22 percent during the year.