Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Garfield County Economic Update

Garfield County’s labor market continues to struggle. The area has lost employment (year-to-year) in 15 of the last 18 months. Recently-released figures for third quarter 2014 provided no relief from this job-losing routine. Employment losses are centered in the County’s two largest sectors, government and leisure/hospitality services. Not surprisingly, in recent months, Garfield County’s unemployment rate has ticked up notch. The county’s best economic news was a healthy third-quarter gain in gross taxable sales.

  • September 2014 showed a year-to-year decline of nearly 50 Garfield County nonfarm jobs. 

  • The 1.7 percent loss is relatively minor, but the continued contraction in employment proves worrisome. 

  • The county took the heaviest job hits in government (which includes public education) and its staple job-providing industry, leisure/hospitality services. 

  • Job additions in several industries partially offset losses elsewhere. Construction, information and professional/business services all generated compensating employment gains.

  • Garfield County joblessness has increased from a recent low of 7.8 percent in August 2014 to 8.3 percent in December 2014. 

  • Always relatively high due to the seasonal nature of the economy, Garfield County’s unemployment rate has edged up while most Utah counties are experiencing lower joblessness. 

  • First-time claims for unemployment insurance do seem to be following a normal seasonal pattern and show no evidence of cyclical difficulties. 

  • Between the third quarters of 2013 and 2014, Garfield County’s gross taxable sales increased by almost 8 percent. This three-quarter streak of improving sales provides the best economic news in an otherwise grey economic picture. 

  • Although employment dipped in leisure/hospitality services, this industry accounted for the largest sales gains in third quarter.