Friday, April 19, 2013

Beaver County Economic Update

In recent years, Beaver County’s nonfarm job indicator has been overshadowed by the coming and going of wind farm construction. In mid-2012, the county escaped the most current round of wind farm completion job losses. By year-end the county’s labor market found itself expanding at a robust rate on its own.

Of all Beaver County’s available economic indicators, only construction permitting has failed to demonstrate a decided improvement.

  • In the final month of 2012, Beaver County displayed a healthy year-to-year growth rate of 6.6 percent. 
  • However, the current expansion remains a virtual one-industry wonder as the reopening of the copper mine helped mining create almost all of the net new 135 jobs. Construction, manufacturing, leisure/hospitality services and retail trade also helped out with roughly 10 new jobs each. 
  • On the downside, transportation and government shed employment. New employment has helped drive the county’s jobless rate down to 5.3 percent in February 2013—just slightly higher than the statewide figure of 5.2 percent. That represents a decline of 0.7 percentage points in the past year. 
  • As in most areas of southern Utah, first-time claims for unemployment insurance have settled into a regular seasonal pattern noticeably below recessionary levels. 
  • Construction permitting has yet to join the expansionary party. Beaver County’s overall construction permit values dropped by a whopping 70 percent in 2012. Of course, 2011 figures included a very large nonresidential permit. Nevertheless, new nonresidential permitting still comprised the largest share of total permit values in 2012. New home permits have yet to show any signs of recovery. 
  • The one bright spot proved a strong gain in nonresidential additions/alterations/repairs. 
  • Now that gross taxable sales figures are no longer dwarfed by the comings-and-goings of construction-related business expenditures, Beaver is showing expansion. Between the fourth quarters of 2011 and 2012, gross taxable sales increased by a vigorous 10 percent.