Thursday, April 24, 2014

Washington County Economic Update

When it comes to movies, boring is bad. When it comes to strong employment growth, boring is good. Yes, Washington County rang in another quarter with job growth in the 5-percent range. That marks two full years of strong employment expansion in Utah’s Dixie. Can anyone say “soft landing?” In addition, announced additions to the county’s employment base should continue to buoy up Washington County’s numbers in the months ahead.

In December 2013, Washington County’s year-to-year employment gain clocked in at 5 percent, representing a net increase of roughly 2,500 jobs. Leisure/hospitality services and construction ran neck-and-neck in the race for top job-gain honors. In addition, retail trade, government (which includes public education) and healthcare/social services all added notable numbers of new positions.

In past months, most industries grew or showed only minor declines. However, in a departure from that trend, one major industry did show a significant decline. Professional/scientific/technical services took a 240-job hit. Fortunately, growth elsewhere more than counterbalanced this loss.

With a steady influx of new jobs, it should come as no surprise that Washington County’s unemployment rate continues to decline. According to recently released population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, Washington County has seen strong net in-migration in recent years and still its jobless rate drops. In March 2013, the county’s jobless rate stood at 4.7 percent—almost a full percentage-point lower than a year earlier.

Gross taxable sales chimed in to round-out the glowing picture of Washington County’s economy. Between the fourth quarters of 2012 and 2013, sales increased by almost 10 percent marking the county’s twelfth straight quarterly gain.