Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Garfield County Economic Update

A shrinking job market continued to plague Garfield County in the first quarter of 2014. This fact coupled with little construction activity points to a less than healthy economy. Even the current drop in joblessness appears related to workers leaving the area. Only an increase in sales suggests the economy may be improving.

Garfield County remains the lone southwest Utah holdout in the jobs arena. The county has experienced steady declines since early 2013. Between March 2013 and March 2014, Garfield County lost almost 140 for a dispiriting 7.3-percent decline. The onus of the loss lies with leisure and hospitality services and healthcare/social services. However, construction, local government and wholesale trade also contributed to the overall job loss. No industry added a significant number of new jobs.

Despite this discouraging job news, Garfield County’s unemployment rate continues to edge down, most likely due to out-migration from the area. In June 2014, the county’s jobless rate at 8.0 percent still remained significantly higher than both the U.S. and Utah rates. The seasonal nature of the area’s tourism-driven economy typically results in a higher-than-average seasonally adjusted unemployment rate.

Construction permitting virtually stalled in 2013. Total construction values dropped 95 percent from already low 2012 figures. The brightest spot among Garfield County’s economic indicators proved an 8-percent year-to-year increase in first quarter 2014 gross taxable sales.