Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Beaver County Economic Update

On the heels of job losses caused by the completion of Beaver County’s most recent large building project, the county finally nudged its way back to job growth at year end. While construction industry employment held steady, a few other industries had slipped into negative territory countering expansion elsewhere. Despite relatively slow employment progress, the county’s jobless rate continued to trend downward in the first few months of 2015 and remains very low from an historical standpoint. Sales are up and continued improvements in construction permitting values rounded out a relatively healthy economic picture. On the other hand, future economic success will rely on sustained job expansion.

  • Between December 2013 and December 2014, Beaver County added 20 new jobs for a year-to-year increase of roughly 1 percent. 
  • Mining, manufacturing and retail trade generated the largest number of new positions. 
  • Noteworthy contraction in leisure/hospitality services and the public sector slowed the pace of overall employment expansion. 
  • The construction industry, formerly the source of notable employment declines, remained flat between December 2013 and December 2014. 
  • Jobless rates continued to trend downward in the early months of 2015. At 3.3 percent in March 2015, joblessness lies firmly in the full-employment range. 
  • First-time claims for unemployment insurance took a slight, unseasonal uptick in March with the largest number of claims occurring in retail trade. 
  • Beaver County ended 2014 with an annual increase of 160 percent in construction permit values. All categories, including residential permitting, showed strong gains. 
  • The county’s seemingly strong 8-percent fourth-quarter gain in gross taxable sales can be traced to an adjustment rather than a current quarter increase. In fact, manufacturing-related business expenditures plummeted when compared to the previous year. 
  • Overall, sales in retail trade dropped somewhat between the fourth quarters of 2013 and 2014. 
  • Beaver County has lost almost 170 residents since the decade began. Net out-migration is at the heart of the overall decline.