Thursday, October 22, 2015

Washington County Economic Update

Yes, they did it again. Washington County clocked one more quarter of strong, but not too strong, economic expansion. Second quarter 2015 employment expansion remained in the golden 5-percent range, while joblessness has bottomed near the 4-percent mark. First-time claims for unemployment insurance show no sign of cyclical difficulties, construction permitting showed moderate expansion, and sales managed robust improvement. All indicators point to a strong, but not overheated economy.

  • Between June 2014 and June 2015, Washington County added more than 2,800 net new jobs for a year-over growth rate of higher than 5 percent.
  • The current quarterly expansion signals three and one-half years of broad-based job growth near the 5-percent mark.
  • Only one major industrial sector failed to add jobs in June. Mining (which includes sand and gravel pits) lost a negligible number of positions.
  • Healthcare/social services took the lead in job creation with notable help from its friends leisure/hospitality services, manufacturing, retail trade and government.
  • Washington County’s unemployment rates have changed little over the past year.
  • The September 2015 jobless figure of 4 percent is down 0.2 percentage points from a year earlier.
  • A stable, relatively low unemployment rate is actually a positive signal that the labor market is meeting the demands of growth without becoming too tight.
  • New claims for unemployment insurance remained low as the autumn progressed with most new claims originating in industries with seasonal or temporary components.
  • The area’s average nonfarm wage continued to slowly improve.
  • Building permit values for the first seven months of 2015 are up a moderate 13 percent.
  • Homebuilding continues to leisurely expand showing no signs of overheating.
  • The number of new permits for January to June 2015 is up only 10 percent from the previous year.
  • Gross taxable sales continued to improve nicely. Between the second quarters of 2014 and 2015, sales increased by 8.6 percent.
  • Sales in retail trade proved particularly strong while business investment expenditures dropped somewhat.