Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Washington County Economic Update

Washington County’s economic indicators continue to paint a bright economic picture. Unemployment is down, jobs are growing, construction is expanding and sales are improving.

First quarter 2014 brought Washington County the best job growth rate since the recession. Between March 2013 and March 2014, the county generated more than 3,400 net new jobs, up almost 7 percent. Is the Washington County economy overheating? Probably not. However, if job growth starts moving closer to the 10-percent mark, concern might be warranted.

Which industries ranked at the forefront of job creation? Construction and hospitality services added the highest number of new jobs. However, Government (state and local and public education), retail trade, healthcare/social services and transportation carried their job-creation weight. The only apparent major industry job loss (wholesale) wasn’t a job loss at all, but a change in industry coding.

Rapid employment expansion walked hand-in-hand with contracting joblessness. By July 2014, the county’s unemployment rate had tumbled to 4.0 percent, down more than a percentage point from last year.

Construction and sales joined the robust economic bandwagon. In 2013, new home permits increased by 56 percent while first-quarter gross taxable sales produced a moderate 4-percent year-to-year gain.