Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Brief Washington County Update

Is three quarters “the charm?” For Washington County, it certainly may be. Recently released jobs data for third quarter 2012 shows the county following in the trend started at the beginning of 2012. Year-to-year job growth rates continued to bounce in the range reflecting Washington County’s long-term growth rate—between 5 and 6 percent. Growth is not too hot, not too cold, but just right. September’s job gains proved the best of the third-quarter lot with an improvement of 5.8 percent. Since September of last year, Washington County has created 2,700 net new jobs.

The county’s job growth rate currently almost doubles the state rate of expansion which more than doubles the national rate of expansion. In terms of job growth, Washington County is the second-fastest growing county in the second-fastest growing state in the nation. The bottom line? Washington County seems firmly planted in an economic expansionary phase.

Here’s a brief overview of other economic indicators:

• Not only is Washington County’s job growth robust, it is broad-based with almost all major industries adding employment during the quarter.

• In September, Professional/business services showed the strongest expansion adding almost 700 new jobs compared to the previous September.

• Both construction and manufacturing continue to improve adding roughly 350 and 200 jobs respectively.

• Other major industries with significant employment expansion (of 200 or more jobs) included retail trade, private education/health/social services, leisure/hospitality services and the public sector.

• Following the trend since the end of the recession, unemployment rates continued to edge down. Washington County’s November 2012 jobless rate of 6.5 percent is burrowed in between the national average (7.7 percent) and the statewide rate (5.1 percent).

• Washington County’s housing market continues to correct itself. For the first ten months of the year, home permits are up 20 percent. This marks the first significant improvement in home-building since the recession began.

• Nonresidential permitting is down slightly from last year. However, nonresidential building typically lags home-building. In other words this is not a totally unexpected occurrence. Overall, construction permit valuations for January-October 2012 have increased 5 percent compared to the same period in 2011.

• According to the federal Housing Price Index, Washington County’s home prices appreciated more than 4 percent between the third quarter of 2011 and the third quarter of 2012—just one more signal that the housing market has righted itself.

• The Utah State Tax Commission has not yet released third quarter sales figures. However, it is a fairly safe bet that third quarter sales will show the same kind of year-to-year improvement they have shown in the last six quarters.