Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Garfield County Economic Update

During most of 2012, Garfield County struggled with job loss. With consistent employment gains, first quarter 2013 wrote a different story. However, job gains remain meager and fall far short of demonstrating a robust economy.
Other economic indicators also depict an economy which has yet to attain stability. Here are the details:
  • Garfield County added less than 10 new jobs between March 2012 and March 2013 for a year-to-year growth rate of just 0.5 percent.
  • Nevertheless, all months in the first quarter of 2013 showed improvement rather than the losses that dominated most of 2012.
  • On the plus side, almost all new employment occurred in the health/social services industry (almost 40 net new jobs). However, lost positions in construction, retail trade and the public sector practically cancelled out the aforementioned gains.
  • Despite a spotty employment record, unemployment continued to edge down.
  • In June 2013, the county’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate measured 9.4 percent—down more than a full percentage point from the June 2012 figure of 10.5 percent.
  • The seasonal nature of Garfield County’s labor market keeps the seasonally adjusted rate high even during the midst of summer when tourism-related jobs are plentiful. For example, Garfield County’s raw, unadjusted unemployment rate for June 2013 measured only 6.9 percent.
  • First-time claims for unemployment insurance are currently trending near pre-recession levels. Not surprisingly, Garfield County’s large, seasonal leisure/hospitality services industry has accounted for the largest industry share of initial claims so far this year.
  • The first quarter of 2013 did not mark the end of Garfield County’s seemingly ever-contracting home permit slide. After six years of declines in the number of permitted homes, no permits were issued for the first quarter of 2013.
  • In addition, first quarter 2013 proved rough for gross taxable sales. Breaking a five-quarter streak of improving sales, first quarter 2013 figures show a 49 percent declined compared to the same time period last year.