Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Brief Beaver County Update

Construction on the various phases of the wind farm in Beaver County has led employment figures on a wild roller coaster ride. At the moment, Beaver County is still showing the employment effects of the completion of the most recent phase. If not for the accounting loss of these positions, Beaver County’s labor market would be expanding rather than contracting. Other economic indicators also reflect the ebb and flow of wind farm construction. Here’s the details:

  • Between March 2011 and 2012, Beaver County nonfarm jobs showed a net loss of 3.7 percent or 81 positions. The construction industry produced the only job losses of note. In addition, expansion in other industries counterbalanced much of the 153-job construction industry contraction.
  • The reopening of the copper mine helped generate an additional 50 mining jobs. Plus, unemployment-insurance-covered agriculture, government, retail trade, and manufacturing all showed expanding payrolls.
  • Because many construction workers leave the county at the completion of their projects, the decrease in construction-related employment produced a negligible effect on Beaver County’s unemployment rate. Joblessness has steadily declined since early 2010 and currently stands at 6.0 percent—the state average. Typically, nonurban counties maintain higher-than-average unemployment rates.
  • Not surprisingly, permitting of the wind farm in 2011 overshadows nonresidential construction permitting in 2012. Plus, no permits for new homes were issued in the first four months of 2012. Overall, January-to-April permit values are down by half compared with the same time period in 2011.
  • Gross taxable sales also reflect business-related investment related to the wind farm. Currently, Beaver County is marking its third straight quarter of declining year-to-year sales.