Thursday, April 27, 2017

Census Bureau Tool Provides Labor-Force Insight for Utah

By Mark Knold and Lecia Langston

Across the United States, jobs are quantified through each state’s unemployment insurance program. Those programs provide the potential for laid-off workers to receive unemployment benefits — the goal being to bridge the gap between workers’ lost jobs and their next jobs. An eligible recipient’s weekly benefit amount is based upon their earnings from recent work. This begs the question, how does Utah’s unemployment insurance program know how much an individual recently earned while working?

That answer is supplied by all businesses that hire workers, as they must report their employees and pay as mandated by the unemployment insurance laws. Companies identify their individual workers and those workers’ monetary earnings for a calendar quarter. As businesses are identified by their industrial activity and geographic location, it is through the unemployment insurance program that aggregate employment counts by industry and location are calculated.

Yet each state’s profiling of individuals is quite minimal in the unemployment insurance program. The U.S. Census Bureau can bring more light to the overall labor force by supplementing said information with gender, age, race/ethnicity and educational attainment (imputed from American Community Survey responses) for Utah’s labor force.

The Census Bureau packages this information through their Local Employment Dynamics program and makes available said data on its website. Here at the Department of Workforce Services, we recently downloaded and packaged Utah-specific data from said website and summarized it in the attached visualization.

Various data “tabs” are available, presenting Utah’s economy from different angles, ranging from industry shares within the economy to the age-group distributions of the labor force, to gender and race distributions. These labor variables can be viewed for the state as a whole, or by each individual county.

Health Insurance: Who’s covered in Utah?

Census Bureau Estimates Provide Answers about Utah Health Insurance Coverage

By Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist

“Most Americans want health insurance.” Jacob Lew

The U.S. Census Bureau just published its Small Area Health Insurance Estimates (SAHIE) for counties and states while the national discussion on health care laws receives renewed attention. Is this a coincidence? Yes, but a timely one. This post examines how health insurance coverage for Utahns has changed and also the demographics of who has coverage and who does not.

Tracking Utahns Under 65 Years of Age

Small Area Health Insurance Estimates cover the population under 65 years of age. Of course, virtually all residents 65 and older are covered by government-provided Medicare. Because the estimates date back to 2008, two years before the signing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the available figures provide an indication of the effect of the ACA on health insurance coverage in Utah and its counties.
More Utahns have Health Insurance

Between 2008 and 2015, the number of Utahns under 65 years old covered by health insurance increased by 284,000. Not only did the actual covered increase, but the share of non-senior population with health insurance also gained ground expanding from less than 84 percent to more than 88 percent — an increase of 4.7 percentage points.

Only Millard County experienced a very slight 0.3 percentage point decline in health insurance coverage although the actual number of persons covered increased by 113. Daggett, Rich, Kane and Grand counties showed the highest growth in under-65 coverage; each showed increases of at least 9 percentage points.

In 2015, counties in northern Utah generally showed the highest level of non-senior health insurance coverage. In Morgan, Davis, Box Elder, Tooele and Cache counties, health insurance rates top 90 percent. On the other end of the scale, rural counties in central and southern Utah display the lowest coverage. In San Juan, Millard, Duchesne and Wayne counties, health insurance rates for those under 65 measured 83 percent or less.

Those under 19 saw the greatest gains. Coverage rates for these young people increased from 87 percent in 2008 to 93 percent in 2015. Utah males experienced a larger gain in coverage between 2008 and 2015 (5 percentage points) than did females (4 percentage points), although females were more likely than men to carry health insurance in both years. Health insurance rates for those with the lowest incomes showed the most improvement (10.4 percentage points). However, their coverage shares remain roughly 10 points below average.

Wait, There’s More…

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Utah national parks see major leap in visitation in 2016

National parks across the country saw record-breaking attendance in 2016, and Utah's parks were no exception. A new government report indicates there were 330.97 million total recreation visits to national parks, a 7.72 percent increase over 2015. In Utah, Zion National Park saw a 17 percent jump in visitation in 2016. Bryce Canyon National Park saw a 26 percent jump and there were similar increases at Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef. In all, Zion National Park ranked fifth for the most-visited national parks in the country.

Officials attribute the boost in visitation to a strong economy, good weather, low gas prices and the National Park Service's Find Your Park marketing campaign, which aimed to draw more visitors to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its creation. Deseret News

SUU sees unexpectedly large student exodus

Southern Utah University’s enrollment drop from last fall to this spring was more than twice as steep—11.3 percent—than the decline in either of the previous two years. Some of the dip is being attributed to 286 students graduating early, administrators said, and current enrollment numbers may not account for students who register for classes throughout the year "pursuing individual professional development plans." Salt Lake Tribune

Friday, March 31, 2017

What's Your County's Population?

U.S. Census Bureau releases 2016 county population estimates.

By Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist

“In a region with a growing population, if you’re doing nothing, you’re losing ground.” Stewart Udall

The Census Bureau just released population estimates for counties and metropolitan statistical areas across the United States. Yes, it was just a few months ago that Utah made headlines as the fastest-growing state in the nation. So, it should come as no surprise that several Utah sub-areas also appeared on the fastest-growing lists.

San Juan County ranked as the fastest growing county in the nation with a 2016 growth estimate of 7.6 percent. Keep in mind that less than 17,000 people live in the county. In other words, a small numeric change in this less-populated county can result in a large percent change.

In addition, three Utah regions ranked among the top 20 fastest-growing Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the country. The St. George, Utah MSA (sixth), Provo-Orem, Utah MSA (seventh) and the Logan, Utah-Idaho MSA (20th) all attained top-20 status. See additional information on the estimates after the “jump.”

Pick a Number, Any Number

Because the Census Bureau actually counts the population only once every decade, these figures are estimates. Plus, they aren’t the only estimates in town. The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute has recently assembled the Utah Population Committee (UPC) to reinstitute the population-estimates work previously conducted by the Utah Population Estimates Committee (UPEC). The estimates can be found here.

Census Bureau estimates use the same methodology in producing population figures for every county in the nation. Therefore, for nationwide comparisons, Census Bureau estimates may have the advantage. On the other hand, UPC population estimates have the benefit of local-analyst expertise and additional data sources.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Utah's Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates

Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for all Utah counties have been posted online here.

Each month, these rates are posted the Monday following the Unemployment Rate Update for Utah.

For more information about seasonally adjusted rates, read a DWS analysis here.

Next update scheduled for April 24th.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Utah's Employment Situation for February 2017

Utah's Employment Situation for February 2017 has been released on the web.

Find the Current Economic Situation in its entirety here.

For charts and tables, including County Employment, go to the Employment and Unemployment page.

Next update scheduled for April 21st, 2017.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Dixie State wins funding for Human Performance Center

The just-concluded legislative session provided the approval needed for a major upgrade to the school’s sports stadium and a new Human Performance Center that will anchor the school’s health and fitness education pathway. DSU will probably begin breaking ground on the stadium project Aug. 1 with an expected completion date in March or April, making it available by the time students begin the new school year in the fall of 2018. The legislature appropriated $8 million for the Human Performance Center during the recent session.

The remainder of a total $25 million appropriation is expected next year. The building will facilitate exercise science and health-related studies for students seeking careers in those fields, but will also include locker rooms, an Olympic-sized pool for the women’s swim team, multiple basketball courts and other facilities that will be available to the public for recreation during the morning hours before classes and in the evenings until midnight, Williams told state Regents in September. The Spectrum

Proposal for offices latest in St. George Mall Drive area development

Developers are requesting a zone change to make room for new office buildings and commercial space on the northwest corner of the intersection of Mall Drive and 3000 East in St. George, the latest in a series of new construction projects on either side of a bridge across the Virgin River. The proposal, forwarded by the Suburban Land Reserve, a real estate arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, would include multiple office buildings within 18 acres along the north side of Mall Drive and surrounding an existing church building, with another two acres set aside for either additional offices or retail businesses at the corner of the main intersection. The Spectrum