Monday, September 18, 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 October 23rd.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Utah's Employment Situation for August 2017

Utah's Employment Situation for August 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 October 20th, 2017.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Brian Head fire rehabilitation treatments underway

A $3 million emergency rehabilitation treatment is currently being implemented in the aftermath of the Brian Head fire. About 119,000 pounds of new seeds have already been dispersed by helicopter onto the 5,000 acres on the most severely burned soil. The seeds were specifically engineered for quick germination and resilience. Crews are now working to top the new seeds with a layer of straw mulch to help foster the new growth. The mulch will also alleviate some of the water runoff.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources will plant seeds on up to 20,000 acres in October or November. In total, approximately 25,000 acres could be treated with new seeds prior to the start of winter. The emergency treatment funding will also be used to repair roads and trails. Overall, the total rehabilitation costs are projected to exceed $80 million. The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management will share the bill with the state since the fire ravaged local, state and federal lands. The Spectrum

St. George Construction Projects

New projects are quickly changing the central St. George landscape this summer.

The Utah Department of Transportation is planning to take a major widening project for Bluff Street to bid this fall. The new overhaul, which would make significant changes to the St. George Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard intersections and add new lanes to the roadway between them, is expected to cost some $40 million, with much of those funds going to property purchases and other costs associated with clearing enough room for the planned changes. More than two dozen businesses were slated to be moved, with nine buildings slated to be demolished to make way for the roadway, a process that is already underway along sections of Bluff just north of St. George Boulevard.

St. George city planners have decided to move ahead with plans for a major overhaul at Vernon Worthen Park, the city center’s oldest and most-used park. The new designs have a new playground and parking lot moving to the north side of the park, across from the new school and the Dixie Sunbowl. New walking paths, landscaping, shade structures and new bathrooms are also planned, along with upgrades to the pickleball and sand volleyball courts. Built out across two phases, the overhaul was estimated to cost about $2 million.

A student housing project that could hold some 400 Dixie State University students is scheduled to move in at the area formerly known as the Sunburst Shopping Center, a collection of shops and restaurants along 700 East and Tabernacle Street. The 113-unit project would be five stories and cover most of the square block between 600 East and 700 East behind a Taco Bell and auto dealer on St. George Boulevard. Developers say it is pegged to open in fall of 2018.

Demolition crews plowed away the university’s 700 East tennis courts this month, making way for a new parking lot and for construction to start this fall on the new Human Performance Center. The 155,000-square-foot building is planned to move in across the street, where an existing parking lot sits next to the Old Gym building, with a groundbreaking for construction slated for mid-October. Eventually, university leaders plan to also build a mixed-use parking garage at the site of the tennis courts, but in the near-term a ground-level lot is planned. There were no immediate plans to replace the tennis courts. The building, which is projected to cost some $50 million, is scheduled to be finished in summer of 2019, complete with a fitness center, track, climbing wall, basketball courts and a 50-meter swimming pool, in addition to classrooms, offices and other facilities. The Spectrum

Cushman & Wakefield release Washington County Commercial Real Estate report

Cushman & Wakefield recently released a second quarter 2017 snapshot of the Washington County commercial real estate market. Highlights follow:

Office Space

The office space market continued to tighten through the first half of 2017. Vacancy fell to 5.8 percent, which is the lowest office vacancy rate in the past nine years.

Dixie Power completed its two new buildings, totaling 29,000 square feet. And ground has been broken on a new 57,000 square-foot medical office building at Riverfront Medical Center.

The prolonged recovery and shrinking vacancy has caused a lack of viable spaces on the market for sale or lease. This is true particularly in the Class A sector.


The industrial market continues to show strength with few available properties on the market for sale or lease. Vacancy bumped up to 2.6 percent in the first half of 2017 due in large part to one vacancy (a 150,000 square-foot property that hit the market over 6 months ago and has yet to be filled). Without that vacancy, the market would have less than 1 percent vacancy.

There is a major spec construction project underway in Ft. Pierce. There is a 80,000 square-foot prelease to a national tenant. This is the largest new construction industrial lease completed in Washington County since 2008.

A 71,000 square-foot multi-tenant spec building is also under construction on the site and is expected to be completed and available for occupancy in January 2018.


Vacancy held at 2.9% from year-end 2016.

New buildings completed in 2017 include: Smith’s Marketplace, The second Tagg-N-Go location on River Road, Nielson RV Dealership, Starbucks on Telegraph and Green Springs Drive, and Tropical Smoothie on Sunset Blvd.

There are several retail projects currently under construction totaling 58,000 square feet. Numerous restaurants, financial institutions and neighborhood service companies are negotiating for space around these new centers.

Starbuck’s and Kneaders, newest locations are beginning construction at Dinosaur Crossing. Mountain America broke ground on the corner in front of Lin’s in Washington Fields.

The hotel industry is perhaps the most active segment of the market with several projects under construction including: the Hyatt Place Lite next to the Dixie Center, the Hampton Inn near Sun River and the Staybridge Suites, and Springhill Suites at Green Springs are pushing for 2017 start dates.

There has been a surge in retail/commercial land sales this year, especially along Interstate 15. Snapshot Link

Utah State University study says national monuments are neither economic ‘boon nor bane’

A recent study by Utah State University professors Paul Jakus and Sherzod Akhundjanov concludes that landscape-scale monuments are “neither a boon nor a bane.” The USU economists compared changes in per-capita income for Garfield and Kane with changes in Utah’s other counties and four bordering counties in Arizona. They found incomes rose in step with comparable counties, although they remain lower than the state as a whole. They applied their methodology to three other big Clinton-era monuments — Canyons of the Ancients, Carrizo Plain and Upper Missouri River Breaks — and came up with similar results.

The Grand Staircase designation precluded the development of promising coal leases on the Kaiparowits Plateau, but that lost opportunity was offset by the dozens of businesses established in the towns rimming the monument to serve visitors and migrants coming to enjoy the region’s beauty, said Jakus, who heads USU’s Center for Society, Economics and the Environment.

The USU study also concluded the Staircase designation had minimal impact on grazing, despite ranchers’ complaints that monument rules are putting them out of business. Declines in stocking levels, it found, were likely the result of the cyclical nature of the cattle industry, which happened to peak the year the monument was designated, and persistent drought, which has reduced available forage. Salt Lake Tribune

Feds ask state to prove it can pay for proposed Lake Powell Pipeline

State officials and other proponents of the Lake Powell pipeline may have just two months to convince federal regulators that their project is backed by a robust plan to pay off more than $1 billion in costs. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has indicated it cannot review the state’s yet-to-be-completed application for permission to build the pipeline in southern Utah because it lacks an adequate financial analysis.

In an Aug. 11 letter to the state’s Board of Water Resources, federal regulators have given Utah 60 days to submit the financial feasibility study, including estimated costs to new and existing water users in Washington and Kane counties. FERC has also asked for additional water use data and for more details about cultural resources along the proposed route of the pipeline, which would carry Colorado River water from Glen Canyon Dam 140 miles to St. George. State officials had indicated the requested information would be part of Utah’s final application. But the study still has not been submitted.

Officials at the Utah Division of Water Resources said the state does intend to submit at least some additional financial information to FERC in the next 60 days. However, the state does not have all the specifics the feds have requested, such as how much the pipeline will cost Washington and Kane County residents. The agency is working on those figures, Williams said, but is not likely to have estimates ready in two months. Salt Lake Tribune

Could St. George’s high-tech vision become reality?

This week St. George City released a new analysis of the “Ridgetop Complex,” the property previously occupied by the city’s old airport. The city also issued a “Request for Qualifications” to developers interested in building out the first phase of the proposed “Tech Ridge.”

The first major project there, a new $45 million campus headquarters for the Dixie Applied Technology College, is already under construction. The surrounding area, all owned by the city, is being reserved for tech-based businesses and high-pay industries like healthcare and financial services, along with higher-end homes, apartments and some shopping. The first phase would include about 28 acres of new development along the northern edge of the property, neighboring the new DXATC campus.

The new market analysis, performed by The Concord Group, a California-based consulting firm, suggests a meticulous effort to foster higher-paying office development could pay off long-term. The buildout could take longer - 15 to 20 years, based on current market trends - but eventually the effort could lead to some 1.7 million square feet of new development, along with nearly 2,000 new jobs, according to the report. The Spectrum

Garkane breaks ground on community solar amphitheater project at park

With the goal of making solar energy more accessible for all of its members and in a joint effort with Kanab City, Garkane broke ground on the area’s first community solar project. Garkane worked closely with Kanab City to find a location that would benefit all of the community, and not just a select few. The 33kW solar energy system will be constructed as the roof of a new amphitheater being built next to the skate park. The amphitheater, nestled beneath Kanab’s red hills, will serve as a beautiful backdrop for outdoor concerts, dance recitals, and other live performances.

With the help of an energy efficient rebate from its wholesale power supplier Deseret Power, and from the newly created SHINE program, Garkane is able to fully fund the project without using additional membership capital. The SHINE program is a way for members to pay an additional amount on their monthly bill to help fund local renewable energy projects. Southern Utah News