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.