Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Washington County Economic Update

Washington County managed to stay right in that economic sweet spot it has inhabited for the past several years. Job growth carried on in the 5-percent range with all major industries participating in the expansion. The jobless rate remains low, but not too low. First time-claims for unemployment insurance showed no unseasonal increases. Construction permitting continued to expand, but not too rapidly. Finally, gross taxable sales followed the past trend with strong growth. Current indicators suggest Washington County is expanding nicely without any sign of feverish or unsustainable growth.

  • Washington County added more than 2,800 jobs between September 2014 and September 2015, holding on to a 5-percent year-to-year growth rate. 
  • Employment growth is strong, but not overheated. Plus, all major industries managed to add jobs over the past year. 
  • Healthcare and social services added the largest number of new positions with construction, manufacturing and professional/business services falling in close behind. 
  • In the third quarter, lower-paying leisure/hospitality services and retail trade added employment at a slower rate than earlier in the year. 
  • In December 2015, Washington County’s unemployment rate registered 3.8 percent, down slightly from a year earlier. 
  • Consistent job growth and almost unwavering joblessness suggest the labor market is in balance, creating enough new jobs to meet the demand of those entering and re-entering the labor market. 
  • As 2015 came to a close, first-time claims for unemployment insurance showed the typical seasonal increase, actually running slightly lower than previous years. 
  • Claims showed no significant signs of large unseasonal layoffs. 
  • The average nonfarm wage continued to slowly improve. The third quarter 2015 year-to-year growth in the average wage proved particularly strong at 3.5 percent. 
  • For the first 11 months of 2015, total construction permitting values showed a strong 18-percent increase compared to the same months in 2014. 
  • New nonresidential values picked up in 2015 following the earlier lead of residential building. 
  • The number of new home permits increased by 10 percent, keeping the county in a sustainable and not overheated home-building mode. 
  • Gross taxable sales displayed another strong performance increasing by almost 10 percent between the third quarters of 2014 and 2015. 
  • Sales proved particularly solid at car dealerships and general merchandise stores.