Thursday, July 30, 2015

Garfield County Economic Update

Is Garfield County’s economy on the mend? While a longer track record of job growth is required to pronounce the county economy fit, the most recent quarter of jobs data provide a welcome respite from the employment contractions of recent years. On average, Garfield County jobs increased by a healthy 4 percent between the first quarters of 2014 and 2015. In tandem with employment growth, jobless rates slipped downward. Although the county’s unemployment rate remains high in comparison to most areas due to its seasonal employment pattern, it is trending slowly downward. Moreover, first-time claims for unemployment insurance almost evaporated in the summer months. Sales figures improved slightly in the first quarter to round out the county’s economic report. The county’s economy does appear to have shaken off the woes of past months for the time being.

  • March 2015 provided the best month of first-quarter jobs performance. Employment totals increased by a robust 8 percent between March 2014 and March 2015, marking a gain of more than 140 positions.
  • The county’s bread-and-butter industry, leisure and hospitality services, created more than half of the employment gain.
  • Construction, retail trade, information and professional/business services also added at least 10 new positions each.
  • Job losses on the industry level proved few and far between.
  • Garfield County’s June 2015 unemployment rate measured 8.3 percent, second highest in the state.
  • Keep in mind that the seasonal nature of the county’s employment base will always result in a higher-than-average seasonally adjusted unemployment rate.
  • Unemployment has edged down since early 2015 and currently measures at the lowest level since the Great Recession.
  • New claims for unemployment insurance almost evaporated during the first month and a half of summer.
  • Not surprisingly, the seasonally-driven leisure and hospitality industry accounted for the highest number of first-time claims so far this year.
  • Average monthly wages continue to sluggishly increase.
  • The average of monthly wage for the four quarters ending March 2015 reached slightly more than $2,300.
  • Between the first quarters of 2014 and 2015, Garfield County’s gross taxable sales increased by 2 percent.
  • Without a prior-period adjustment, the gain would have registered a much stronger 8 percent. Sales gains proved particularly strong in accommodations.