Thursday, April 24, 2014

Beaver County Economic Update

The construction of green energy projects has played a major role in Beaver County’s employment levels in recent years. Jobs expanded dramatically due to windfarm and geothermal plant construction only to contract as the projects reached completion. In the final quarter of 2013, construction employment hit the deflation stage of the cycle and its ballooning year-to-year growth rates have evaporated. However, the county still finds itself growing at a healthy rate, particularly for a less-populated county. Several upcoming projects such as potash mining should continue to provide additional jobs for county residents in the future.

Between December 2012 and December 2013, Beaver County generated a net gain of more than 100 positions, posting a vigorous 4.8 percent uptick. While construction employment remained virtually unchanged, manufacturing, mining, retail trade and utilities all made significant contributions to the county’s labor market. Interestingly, U.S. Census Bureau population estimates for 2013 (6,459) suggest that the county’s population actually decreased slightly from 2012.

More jobs and less population translated into a lower unemployment rate. Despite a very minor uptick in March, Beaver County’s unemployment rate (3.8 percent) remains below both the state and national figures and firmly in the realm of “full-employment.” Just since March of 2012, the county’s jobless rate has decreased by more than half a percentage point. First-time claims for unemployment insurance also show persistently low levels with seasonal construction, transportation and leisure/hospitality services showing the highest claim counts.

In addition, gross taxable sales are up 57 percent between the fourth quarters of 2012 and 2013. Just as with construction employment, large projects have generated notable levels of business investment expenditures in this category.