Monday, May 21, 2018

BLM seeks comments on proposal for solar energy development in Utah

The BLM’s Cedar City Field Office released a draft environmental assessment for proposed parcels within the Milford Flats South Solar Energy Zone. This draft environmental assessment analyzes the environmental consequences of competitively leasing four parcels of public lands, comprising approximately 5,564 acres, for solar energy development and initiates a 30-day public comment period.

If the Milford Flats Solar Energy Zone in Beaver County is fully developed, it is anticipated that construction will provide at least 216 jobs and $11.2 million in income to those employed, with operations providing at least 15 jobs and $400,000 in income. St George News

Independent living senior village coming to Kanab

SageHill Partners announced a public meeting will be held May 19 at the Kanab City Library to launch what could be Utah’s first SageHill Living Village. It is inspired by creative aging ideals that have the power to change the way people age in rural America. The goal is to downsize the footprint and upsize the community to reflect shared values, interests, and purpose. The village will offer single-level living for 14-24 households nestled around a large common house to create the atmosphere of an old-fashioned village. SageHill is researching possible sites in the Kanab city limits. If they quickly secure a site and a group of committed residents, they will be able to break ground in early 2019, if not sooner. The Spectrum

St. George's latest upgrade: $60 million expansion of wastewater treatment plant

Construction is set to start this summer on a major expansion of the St George water treatment plant, a process expected to take several years and cost some $60 million. The St. George City Council accepted a $25.3 million bid in April to starting building headworks and a UV disinfection system, the first phase in a series of three major projects that water managers say could essentially double the plant’s capacity. The first phase of construction is expected to take about 20 months; a second phase could cost $39 million and take up to two years to build. At that point, the project could be on hold for several years while managers wait for population growth to necessitate the third and final phase. The Spectrum

Cole West Home Breaks Ground on Progressive Development in Washington

Cole West Home has broken ground on The Eighth, a 21-unit housing development in Washington City, Utah. The property, located at 2250 North Coral Canyon Blvd, was a distressed property prior to being acquired by the homebuilder. The 5-acre neighborhood offers progressive and modern vacation home designs reflective of the southern Utah landscape. Utah Business Magazine

St. George City approves tax incentive with Ram Company

City officials have approved a tax incentive for a manufacturing company that is promising to add dozens of new jobs in St. George, a benefit to the area economy. The Ram Manufacturing Company, otherwise known as Ram Pro, is in the process of completing an $11 million expansion to its facility in St. George. Along with the 71,000-square foot expansion, the company plans to provide 38 new jobs. Citing the Ram Company’s “significant contribution to the local economy and tax base,” the St. George City Council approved a 10-year tax agreement with the company to incentivize its expansion and creation of new jobs. St George News

Grand opening celebration for Hampton Inn & Suites St. George

Sun River Hotel Group, a partnership with SunRiver Commercial Development, ISR Development LC and Wittwer Hospitality, hosted a grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting for its newest property, Hampton Inn & Suites St. George at SunRiver. The new 120-room hotel is joining more than 2,200 Hampton by Hilton properties around the world. The hotel group is also developing a second, resort-style, hotel adjacent to the new Hampton Inn & Suites that will complement the quickly growing commercial and residential developments at Exit 2 and Southern Parkway. St. George News

Long-awaited Joule Plaza breaks ground in downtown St. George

The future site of Joule Plaza, a mixed-use project that has been in the works for many years, played host to a groundbreaking ceremony. Estimated to be completed by summer 2019, the project will feature both residential and commercial space.

The project is located across the street from the 5th District Courthouse on Tabernacle Street, dominating much of the block between 200 and 300 West, and covers approximately 4 acres. It will feature 19,100 square feet of commercial space, as well as offer amenities for residents that aren’t generally available in the downtown area.

Joule Plaza will sport three four-story buildings and consist of studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments. According to the project’s website, the apartments will have high-end features like granite counter tops, wood plank tile, balconies and high-speed fiber internet. It will also include common areas, a fitness center for residents and a pool. St George News

Construction begins on $2M inmate housing facility at Purgatory

Purgatory Correctional Facility will be getting a new addition as construction begins on a low-security, work-crew building replacing dilapidated modular structures that are 16 years out of date. The single-story, $2 million detention facility will house approximately 128 work-release inmates and enhance the Sheriff’s Office ability to provide inmates with jobs that help them transition back into society. Construction of the 14,000-square-foot building began this week on a site located behind the jail. It is expected to be completed by September. St. George News

Monday, May 7, 2018

Moving on: Why Do Workers Move to Washington County?

Which comes first, jobs or workers?

By Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist

“The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of tiny pushes of each honest worker.” Helen Keller

The Chicken or the Egg?

It’s a chicken and egg conundrum. Do workers move to Washington County for jobs and then enjoy the area or do they move to Washington County for the quality of life and then find a job? The answer to this question most likely lies somewhere in the middle — they do both. Short of an extensive and expensive survey, economists have been left with little concrete evidence of which reason predominates. However, analysis of recently developed job-to-job flow data suggests that a large portion of workers move to the St. George, UT MSA (Washington County) for nonmonetary reasons.

The Job-to-Job Flows (J2J) data series, from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Local Employment Dynamics program, provides never-before-available information to help economists analyze the movement of workers. This article outlines what this new data set reveals about the workers who have moved to Washington County in recent years.

Quick Takeaways

  • In Washington County, rapid population growth and robust job expansion go hand in hand. 
  • From 1970 to 2000, Washington County’s population almost doubled every decade, with employment growth reaching almost 20 percent in one year (1994).
  • Job opportunities attract employees from other areas, but workers may also be motivated to move to the area for nonmonetary reasons.
  • New data provides some clues to the employment or quality-of-life motivations of in-migrating workers.
  • Between 2012 and 2016, roughly 15 percent of all Washington County in-migrants were age 65 or older.
  • Another 25 percent were under the age of 18. In-migrants between the ages of 18 and 64, the typical working years, accounted for 60 percent of total move-ins.
  • Those 65 years and older most likely moved to Washington County to take advantage of the quality of life and mild climate in the area.
  • Workers both move from Washington County and to Washington County for employment purposes. The retail trade industry consistently hires the highest number of out-of-area workers, followed by healthcare/social assistance and accommodations/food services.
  • Retail trade and accommodations/food services positions don’t pay particularly well and are plentiful in other areas.
  • Since jobs in these industries are relatively low-paying and abundant elsewhere, it would appear that many workers prime purpose in moving to Washington County is not employment related.
  • The healthcare and social assistance industry generally hires the second-highest number of out-of-state workers.
  • Healthcare/social services pays 30 percent higher than the average Washington County wage and its wages are on par with salaries statewide.
  • Out-of-state female workers are particularly prone to take healthcare/social assistance jobs.
  • Despite the widespread availability of healthcare/social service positions nationwide, many workers may have moved to the county for these employment opportunities.
  • Construction industry hiring of out-of-state workers ebbs and flows with the building cycle.
  • Most workers moving to Washington County had a fairly short move.
  • Roughly 65 percent came from other Utah counties, with the Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV MSA also providing a large number of workers.
  • The larger metropolitan areas generally create far more employment opportunities, have lower unemployment and pay higher wages than Washington County, suggesting workers are moving to Washington County for quality of life upgrades.
  • In contrast, for the 16-percent share of out-of-area workers moving from non-metro Utah, the ready availability of Washington County jobs may certainly be the driving force in obtaining Washington County employment.
  • On an area-by-area basis, net flows of workers typically favor Washington County. The Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV MSA is often the exception to this rule.
  • Washington County wages register much lower than the U.S. and Utah averages suggesting most nonurban in-migrators are not moving for a job with better wages.
  • Out-of-area new hire wages also run consistently below the new hire wages of the large metro areas.
  • Hire wages of out-of-state workers register lower than the hire wages of in-area workers, as well.
  • The large differentials in hiring wages suggest that many workers in metro regions have nonmonetary reasons for moving house and job.
  • In general, out-of-area workers taking jobs in wholesale trade, utilities, finance/insurance and healthcare/social services receive the highest wages.
  • Workers moving to Washington County are most likely to be hired in the summer months and least likely to be hired in the winter months.
  • In general, working in-migrants outnumber working out-migrants, although a downturn in the business cycle can supersede this relationship.
  • During times of rapid expansion, in-migrant workers far outnumber those who leave Washington County for employment.
  • Throughout the recession, Washington County experienced a net outflow of workers.
  • The majority of out-of-area workers starting a job in Washington County either had a position before moving or shortly thereafter.
  • The gap between the number of workers with continuous employment and those with a break proved much larger during economic expansions.
  • Workers with continuous employment typically were hired at higher wages than those with discontinuous employment.
  • The educational attainment of recent out-of-area worker hires (25 years and older) roughly mirrors the attainment of workers already in the county.
  • Workers between the ages of 25 and 34 make up the largest share of out-of-area hires by age.
  • While older workers still make up a relatively small share of out-of-area transplants, the oldest workers (55 and older) have steadily increased their share of total out-of-area hires since 2000.
  • More out-of-area male hires are the norm, but the difference between male and female hires remains fairly close.
  • Latino hires make up a fairly small share of out-of-area hires in Washington County; nevertheless, that share has been expanding, reflecting parallel population changes.