Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist
Despite its early post-recession recovery, Sanpete County now fights for return to expansion. To be pronounced economically fit, the county must generate new jobs and present a solid front among its other economic indicators. The county sailed through 2012 with robust growth. However, third quarter nonfarm jobs data show a not-so-happy contraction in nonfarm employment.
Between September 2012 and September 2013, Sanpete County lost 142 jobs, for a decline of almost 2 percent. Moreover, most industries shared in the cause for the employment declines. Only professional/business services and health/social services produced any employment expansion worth noting.
The county’s unemployment rate edges ever downward despite the recent spate of nonfarm job contraction. A relatively high percentage of workers commute outside the county for employment which may contribute to the declining jobless rate. In December 2013, the county’s unemployment rate registered 5.3 percent, still more than a full percentage point below the national average.
In tandem with the workforce, gross taxable sales have slowed recently. However, the county did manage to eke out 2-percent year-to-year gain in third quarter 2013.
Given the current contraction in employment, Sanpete County cannot be pronounced as entirely healthy. Moreover, regardless of the surge in employment in 2012, total nonfarm employment levels still measure far below those of the pre-recession boom. Nevertheless, job losses are relatively mild at this point and other indicators are less disappointing.