Thursday, April 18, 2013

Kane County Economic Update

Recently released employment numbers for the fourth quarter of 2012 show Kane County’s jobs growing at a moderate rate. That’s typically good news. However, Kane County has been in this position before since the economic recovery began only to slip back into job loss. In fact, for most of the past two years, the county has struggled to maintain a notable rate of growth. Only time will prove if 2013 will mark the beginning of sustained expansion.

Other indicators do seem to point to a better 2013. Construction permitting certainly took a turn for the better in the past few months. Here are some specifics:

  • Between December 2011 and December 2012, Kane County added 80 net new jobs for a growth rate of 3 percent. However, for the fourth quarter as a whole, year-to-year job growth measured only half that figure and the county actually lost a few jobs in November.
  • Despite the overall gain in December, most major industries actually lost employment. True, the declines appeared relatively minor. However, the losses did put a drag on the labor market.
  • Leisure/hospitality services performed as the prime mover and shaker behind the December growth—with a little help from the public sector and private education/health/social services.
  • Employment expansion has proved sufficient to help drive down joblessness. In February 2013, Kane County’s unemployment rate measured 6.4 percent—down almost a full percentage point since February 2012.
  • Like most of its neighbors, Kane County’s unemployment rate registers between the higher national average (7.7 percent) and the relatively low statewide rate (5.2 percent).
  • First-time claims for unemployment insurance seem to have settled into a regular pattern indicative of seasonal layoffs. Indeed, leisure/hospitality serves proved responsible for the highest number of industry claims so far in 2013.
  • Construction permitting holds for the hope for higher employment levels in 2013. Home-building permits showed their first revival in Kane County since 2005. Between 2011 and 2012, the number of newly approved dwelling units increased by one-fifth.
  • Kane County also received a nice boos in to total values (up 11 percent) from a surge in nonresidential additions/alterations/repair permits.
  • Kane County’s fourth quarter 2012 gross taxable sales showed a robust 14-percent gain. Six out of the last seven quarters have shown gross taxable sales gains—another sign that the labor market could show continued improvement in the year ahead.