Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Brief Kane County Economic Update

For most of the past three years, Kane County has experienced job growth. However, this most important of local-level economic indicators still periodically slipped below the line and to show job losses. Not only does the county frequently flirt with employment contraction, what growth has occurred has proved rather lackluster. Other economic indicators seem to be following a similar pattern. Here’s the scoop:

• Between September 2011 and September 2012, Kane County’s nonfarm job totals increased by 25 positions. That represents a rather sluggish year-to-year expansion of 0.8 percent.

• On one hand, September marks the sixth straight month of employment expansion for Kane County. On the other hand, the current gains are hardly indicative of a robust economy. Nevertheless, growth—even lethargic growth remains better than the alternative.

• The current expansion isn’t broad-based—another signpost that Kane County’s economy has yet to embrace the road to economic health. Most major industrial categories actually contracted. Losses proved particularly noticeable in construction, retail trade, private education/health/social services and other services.

• In fact, without the 100-job, 9-percent year-over gain in leisure/hospitality services, Kane County would have dipped into job-loss territory.

• The small upward hitch in the county’s jobless rate earlier in the year seems to have dispersed. In November 2012, the county’s unemployment rate measured 6.4 percent—down 0.7 of a point from November a year earlier. As in many rural counties, Kane County’s joblessness measures between the state (5.2 percent) and national (7.7 percent) averages.

• New claims seem to have shrugged off the cyclical effects of the past recession and have settled into a more-normal seasonal pattern.

• Construction permitting activity seems to indicate the housing market in Kane County is beginning to right itself. While currently there is no change in the number of home permits issued in the first ten months of 2012 compared with the same time frame in 2011, the previous five years have shown 40-percent-plus declines in home permits. Overall permit values are down a mere 4 percent for January-October 2012—decimal dust in the world of construction permitting.

• While gross taxable sales are not yet available for the third quarter of 2012, Kane County will most likely continue the current five-quarter streak of improving sales.