Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Garfield County Economic Update

As 2014 came to a close, Garfield County managed its first quarter of job growth in almost two years. However, the momentary surge in employment proved fleeting as December slipped into job loss again. Only time will tell if Garfield County can find its way to steady employment expansion as 2015 progresses. The more current unemployment rates suggest not. Joblessness has been trending upward since mid-2014 although first-time claims for unemployment are following a seasonally-low pattern during the first three months of the year. During fourth quarter, sales remained the county’s strongest indicator.

  • Although between the fourth quarters of 2013 and 2014 Garfield County added 20 positions, December-to-December employment was down by 26 jobs (a 1.5 percent decline). 
  • Leisure/hospitality services and retail trade took the brunt of the December job hits. 
  • While construction and professional/business services generated notable employment gains, the increase was not sufficient to offset the aforementioned losses. 
  • Further malaise in the labor market was evidenced by a persistent uptick in joblessness. The March 2015 unemployment rate measured 8.7 percent. 
  • Garfield County’s unemployment rate ranked second highest in the state. 
  • In the first few months of 2015, first-time claims for unemployment insurance appear to be following the typical seasonal trend with most claims originating in the tourism-driven leisure/hospitality services industry. 
  • Gross taxable sales continued to provide the best economic news for the county. Between the fourth quarters of 2013 and 2014, sales skyrocketed by 26 percent. 
  • While a previous-quarter adjustment accounted for some of the fourth-quarter gain, a surge in accommodations and retail sales contributed substantially to the overall increase. 
  • Compared to the start of the decade, Garfield County’s 2014 population is down nearly 150 individuals. 
  • The county’s population has contracted for four years straight. This decline can be traced to more residents moving out of the county than moving into the county.