Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist
Although other counties in the central Utah region have struggled to maintain employment expansion since the end of the recession, Piute County has fought to produce any new jobs at all. Third quarter 2013 marks the first significant nonfarm employment increase since 2007. At quarter-end, Piute County jobs had increased almost 11 percent on a year-to-year basis.
Of course, due to its less-populated circumstances, the September 2012 to September 2013 year-over gain represented only 28 jobs. Yet, for this small county, the current increase provides welcome news indeed. At the heart of the increase were significant employment additions in retail trade, leisure/hospitality services and government. While a few industries dropped jobs, the losses proved minor.
Despite the county’s past history of job loss, its unemployment rate continued to descend as workers left the labor force or found work in other counties. Interestingly, concurrently with recent employment gains, joblessness has ticked up slightly. The county’s unemployment rate measured 4.7 percent in December 2013. That’s still relatively low for a rural county.
Piute County’s remaining measure of economic health, gross taxable sales, has shown the best performance of any indicator. Third quarter 2013 proved no exception to this rule. Between the third quarters of 2012 and 2013, sales increased by roughly 4 percent.
Although it’s early yet, current employment figures suggest that Piute County has turned the corner towards a more energetic economy.