Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist
In the third quarter of 2013, Millard County’s labor market continued to expand, generating one of the better economic performances in central Utah. However, although the year-to-year nonfarm job growth rate registered 2.5 percent, solidly in the moderate range for small counties, monthly figures varied widely. That’s not uncommon in rural Utah. On the other hand, the quarter started high with a 4.5 percent increase in July and ended low with a September rate of only 0.5 percent. Whether the current slowdown in employment gains represents a trend, only fourth quarter will tell.
As of September, the county’s nonfarm jobs were up by fewer than 20 positions as growth and loss among the various industrial sectors provided offsetting employment changes. Major job-winners included manufacturing, professional/business services and private education/health/social services. On the job-losing side of the ledger, wholesale trade and transportation took the most notable job hits.
Employment growth has proved sufficient in recent months to drive down the county’s unemployment rates. As of December 2013, Millard County’s unemployment rate estimate stood at 3.6 percent, notably lower than the statewide average of 4.1 percent. Generally, rural counties experience higher-than-average rates of joblessness.
Gross taxable sales kept up a five-quarter winning streak with an 18-percent year-over expansion in third quarter 2013. In addition new/car truck sales exploded 68 percent during the same time period.
While Millard County’s job growth could be more consistent, the county’s economy is expanding and other indicators demonstrate a relatively healthy economy.