Data for the county presented a muddled economic picture. Jobs continue to contract, but joblessness dropped. Construction permitting slipped, but the residential sector improved. The uptick in sales provided the best news and may signal a healthier upcoming economy.
Sanpete County continued to shed jobs as the new year began. However, the losses do appear to be moderating, suggesting job growth may resume in second quarter. Between March 2013 and March 2014, Sanpete County lost more than 80 nonfarm positions for a decrease of 1.2 percent. Unfortunately, three major industries can take the responsibility for the overall loss: mining, financial activities and the public sector. Fortunately, retail trade and professional/business services generated new jobs which partially offset the losses in other sectors.
Despite the recent employment contraction, the county’s jobless rate continued to shrink. Down more than a full percentage point from July 2013, the July 2014 rate clocked in at 4.7 percent. Here, outmigration along with commuter jobs in other counties helped push down joblessness within the counties borders.
Recently released 2013 construction permitting data provides mixed economic clues. In total, construction values fell 30 percent in 2013. However, the residential building market showed signs of life with the first gains since the recession began. Gross taxable sales returned to the positive side of the ledger with a healthy 5-percent increase between the first quarters of 2013 and 2014.