Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Beaver County Economic Update

Beaver County’s economy presented a mixed bag of indicators. Job growth slowed substantially and gross taxable sales contracted. On the other hand, unemployment levels continue to decrease and construction picked up. However, in the final accounting, the county must generate a higher level of employment growth to be considered economically healthy.

For the past half-decade, Beaver County’s employment levels have fluctuated in tandem with the coming and going of green-energy construction projects. Although construction jobs bottomed out in the first quarter, the remaining industries failed to pick up the employment torch. Nevertheless, nonfarm jobs figures still stayed in the black with a 0.7-percent, 16-job year-to-year increase in March 2014. Mining and covered agriculture lost more than ten jobs each while retail trade and transportation added 19 and 15 positions respectively. The remaining industries experienced little change, adding a job here or losing a job there.

Beaver County’s unemployment rate hasn’t suffered from the slowdown in employment expansion. In July 2014, joblessness dropped to a mere 3.3 percent, certainly in the realm of full employment. The county’s rate registered below both state (3.6 percent) and national (6.2 percent) averages.

Recently-released construction permitting figures for 2013 indicated that while nonresidential permits dominated the figures, residential permitting started to recover. After decreasing for more than seven years, the county finally experienced an upswing in the number of permits for new dwellings.

Gross taxable sales seemingly took a beating in the first quarter of 2014 with a 10-percent year-over decline. However, that’s only because first quarter 2013 figures were over inflated due to business expenditures related to construction projects.