Thursday, October 9, 2014

Washington County Economic Update

After a two-year stretch of 5 to 6 percent year-over employment growth, Washington County’s expansion heated up a notch in the first quarter of 2014 raising concerns that the economy might get “too hot.” However, recently-released second quarter employment figures reveal job gains have reverted to their “just right” 5-to-6-percent growth ways. Of course, this level of growth, while common in Washington County remains much stronger than state and national averages. All other available indicators also show the economy in the full flush of economic expansion. In addition, announced business openings and relocations should continue to buoy up the Washington County economy in months to come.

• Between June 2013 and June 2014, Washington County’s nonfarm employment measured just below 5 percent for an addition of nearly 2,600 positions.

• Every major industry added employment. • Leisure/hospitality services and construction placed neck-and-neck for job creation honors, each showing a net gain of nearly 540 positions.

• Transportation/warehousing, retail trade and manufacturing also added notable numbers of new positions.

• Due to slippage in state and federal jobs, public sector employment increased by less than 1 percent. The nature of government budgeting often results in the public sector trailing the pack during all legs of the business cycle.

• The county’s unemployment rate continues to edge ever downward. In August 2014, joblessness measured 3.9 percent. That’s down more than a percentage point since last year and marks the lowest level in six years.

• An unemployment rate this low suggests the labor market is tightening. So, expect to see the beginning of upward pressure on wages.

• Gross taxable sales remain strong with a 9.2 percent year-to-year gain in second quarter 2014.

• Sales gains proved particularly strong at motor vehicle dealers, general merchandise stores and accommodation/food establishments.

• Initial claims for unemployment insurance remain at a low, noncyclical level.