Thursday, April 24, 2014

Iron County Economic Update

After a brief slip into negative territory in September, Iron County navigated itself back to job growth in the final quarter of 2013. After a rather disappointing recovery, the county seems poised to move toward robust expansion. However, year-to-year growth rates remain relatively low—only 1.6 percent in December 2013. Fortunately, anticipated manufacturing hiring and an improved construction scene should help Iron County achieve full-fledged expansion in the months ahead.

Between December 2012 and December 2013, Iron County generated almost 260 net, new jobs. Construction and healthcare/social services created the most new jobs with a little help from a reviving manufacturing sector, retail trade, and leisure/hospitality services. The only major employment decline occurred in the public sector with federal, state and local entities all joining the job-loss bandwagon.

Although Iron County is relatively new to employment gains, its unemployment rates have consistently trended downward. In March 2014, the county’s jobless rate stood at 4.8 percent, down a full percentage point from the previous year. Recent population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show a steady stream of net out-migration over the past four years which suggests that unemployed workers have left the area. First-time claims for unemployment insurance have certainly mellowed back to their traditional seasonal pattern and show no sign of economic distress.

Gross taxable sales sustained their strong track record as 2013 came to a close. Between the fourth quarters of 2012 and 2013, Iron County sales increased by almost 11 percent. County sales have shown strong growth since the second quarter of 2011.