Friday, April 19, 2013

Wayne County Economic Update

While the economic blow Wayne County suffered when its largest employer (Aspen Health) closed its doors has not dissipated, its effect on the year-to-year employment numbers has. Recently-released jobs figures for the fourth quarter of 2012 reveal moderate employment expansion in the county. Nevertheless unemployment rates remain high and construction permitting has yet to improve.

  • In the final month of 2012, Wayne County showed a year-over nonfarm job increase of almost 4 percent—a gain of almost 30 positions. 
  • Leisure/hospitality services, private education/health social services, and construction provided the primary sources of new employment. 
  • Not all major industries shared in the employment joy. In particular, retail trade showed a notable employment decline. 
  • The closure of the county’s largest employer is definitely reflected in the county’s rising unemployment rate. As of February 2013, Wayne County’s jobless rate measured a whopping 13.1 percent—up more than a full percentage point from a year earlier. Wayne County’s unemployment rate registers decidedly higher than figures for the state (5.2 percent) and nation (7.7 percent). 
  • Construction permitting for 2012 seems unlikely to spur much employment growth. However, while the number of dwelling units in the county dropped by 7 percent (just one permit), residential additions/alterations/repairs jumped 75 percent. Moreover, residential permitting still accounted for two-thirds of total permitted values. 
  • Nonresidential permitting declined notably helping to keep total permit values down about 11 percent during 2012. 
  • First-time claims for unemployment insurance remain in a typical seasonal pattern in the first months of 2013, reflecting no unusual job loss. Claims are highest in the volatile construction industry and the seasonal leisure/hospitality industry. 
  • Between the fourth quarters of 2011 and 2012, Wayne County’s gross taxable sales increased by a mere 1 percent. However, in five of the last seven quarters, the county has generated year-over gains.