Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Iron County Economic Update

Third quarter employment figures suggest Iron County is finally back in the economic high life again. Prior to mid-2013, the county struggled to add jobs. However, Iron County has generated robust employment gains of roughly 5 percent for three consecutive quarters. Moreover, ever major industry generated new jobs. Not surprisingly, joblessness continued to tick downward, certainly dropping into the touted “full employment” range. In general, other economic indicators also suggest an improving economy.

  • Iron County added more than 800 new jobs between September 2013 and September 2014 for a growth rate of 5.2 percent. That’s far higher than the state rate of 3.0 percent. 
  • All major industries joined in the employment gains. 
  •  The public sector, leisure/hospitality services, private education/health/social services and retail trade made the strongest contributions. 
  • The large increase in mining employment resulted primarily from a coding correction rather than a genuine gain. 
  • Strong employment gains added the momentum to push Iron County’s unemployment rate down. In December 2014, the jobless rate stood at 4.2 percent, the lowest level since before the recession. 
  • In the first few weeks of 2015, initial claims for unemployment insurance followed the seasonal pattern of the past several years and remain historically low. 
  • Gross taxable sales gains looked rather lackluster with only a 0.2-percent year-to-year increase in the third quarter of 2014. Prior gains have proved notably more substantial. 
  • The current tepid rate of sales growth can be traced in part to an adjustment for prior quarters and a business-investment sector decline rather than to contraction at the retail level. 
  • Compared to the previous year, Iron County’s third quarter 2014 new car and truck sales increased by a vigorous 20 percent.