Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wayne County Economic Update

As 2015 came to a close, Wayne County managed to hold on to the hard-won employment expansion of previous quarters. However, significant losses in several industries suggest the county’s job situation could still stand improvement. Unemployment remains high although it is trending downward. Construction permitting values increased in 2015 with the home-building market posting its best year since the recession. Finally, gross taxable sales made strong gains. While not completely healed from the loss of its largest employer several years ago, Wayne County’s economy is certainly moving forward.

• Overall, Wayne County’s job growth proved relatively tepid with a 2.2 percent, 19-job gain between December 2014 and December 2015.

• Employment expansion was hampered by significant declines in leisure/hospitality services and healthcare/social services.

• On the positive side, mining, construction and retail trade grew sufficiently to more than offset losses in other industries.

• Joblessness continued to improve in Wayne County.

• The county’s unemployment rate has dropped more than a full percentage point over the past year.

• Unfortunately, at 8.1 percent, the county’s jobless rate is the fifth-highest in the state and measures far above the statewide figure of 3.5 percent.

• First-time claims for unemployment insurance are currently following a seasonal pattern suggesting that no unusual layoff activity has occurred so far in 2016.

• The leisure/hospitality services industry has generated the lion’s share of new claims so far this year.

• Although the county’s average monthly wage had flattened earlier in the year, it managed a strong 8-percent wage gain between the fourth quarters of 2014 and 2015.

• In 2015, total construction permitting values increased by a robust 26 percent.

• Wayne County authorized more new home permits in 2015 than in any year since the recession.

• New nonresidential permitting remained essentially flat.

• Between the fourth quarters of 2014 and 2015, Wayne County’s gross taxable sales displayed a healthy 15-percent increase.

• Tourism-driven accommodations and food services industries experienced especially solid improvements as did food stores, general merchandise stores and gasoline stations.