Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Garfield County Economic Update

Although Garfield County showed a strong, post-recession increase in employment early on, its labor market has struggled with job loss for most of the past three years. Finally, by the end of the second quarter of 2013, the county managed a dash of year-to-year job growth. However, the county will not find itself on firm economic ground until it can show consistent employment gains across a broad range of industries. Other economic indicators suggest the economy is improving. If job growth can tag along, Garfield County’s economy should join the rest of the southwest Utah region in an economic expansion.

• In the twelve months preceding June 2014, Garfield County generated a net gain of roughly 20 new jobs for an increase of 0.6 percent.

• A robust 60-job gain in leisure/hospitality services and a 20-position increase in professional/business services were partially offset by losses in most other industries. In particular, healthcare/social services and the public sector displayed notable declines.

• In general, Garfield County’s jobless rate has continued to edge down due in part to out-migration.

 • In August 2014, the county’s unemployment measured 8.2 percent, down more than a full percentage point from August 2013.

• The seasonal nature of the county’s tourism-based economy means Garfield County’s rate registers higher than most counties. Indeed, it ranks second highest in the state behind only neighboring Wayne County.

• On a year-to-year basis, the county’s gross taxable sales increased by almost 4 percent for the second quarter of 2014. Although not always positive, gross taxable sales have provided the strongest improvements among the county’s economic indicators.

• The current progress can be largely traced to strong sales at accommodation establishments.

• Initial claims for unemployment insurance have settled into a seasonal pattern similar to that in the pre-recession era.