Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Brief Kane County Economic Update

When it comes to Kane County job growth, it appears like a case of “following the bouncing ball.” Year-to-year employment figures have fluctuated between growth and loss for most of the past few years without ever settling into a sustained trend. Does the second quarter of 2012 mark an end to this pattern? Perhaps. Employment was up in all three months. Here’s a quick recap of the county’s current economic indicators:

  • Job growth stood at 1.5 percent for the twelve months ending June 2012. That represents an increase of 52 jobs. However, the county still has a way to go to achieve the moderate expansion that is indicative of a healthy economy.
  • In addition, most new jobs were added in the leisure/hospitality sector where jobs are more likely to be part-time and seasonal.
  • Job losses in other sectors offset roughly two-thirds of the gains in leisure/hospitality services. Construction, retail trade, private educational/health/social services and the public sector all showed notable employment contraction.
  • A slight blip in the county’s unemployment rate earlier in the year seems to have evaporated. As of August 2012, Kane County’s jobless rate stood at 7.1 percent—down almost a full percentage point from last year. As in many other rural Utah counties, Kane County finds its unemployment rate nestled between the national rate (8.1 percent) and the statewide average (5.8 percent).
  • New claims for unemployment insurance have slowed to a trickle.
  • Construction has yet to show signs of life. Home permitting for the first half of 2012 is down 53 percent from the previous year. The last time the county experienced an uptick in home building was 2006. Total permit values (which additionally include nonresidential and improvement permits) slipped 40 percent over the same time period.
  • Gross taxable sales show a somewhat brighter picture. Kane County has experienced year-to-year expansions in sales for the past five quarters. On the other hand, second quarter 2012 gain proved a meager 0.5 percent.