Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Beaver County Economic Update

As 2015 came to an end, Beaver County’s economy found itself in an unaccustomed period of relative tranquility. In the final quarter of the year, jobs showed moderate gains with fairly broad industry participation. Correspondingly, in early 2016, joblessness has leveled out at a relatively low level and first-time claims for unemployment insurance are holding to a seasonal pattern. In 2015, construction permitting surged from the authorization of several large solar permits and the home-building market experienced the strongest permitting in the post-recession era. And, while gross taxable sales appear to be down substantially, the drop can be traced to prior period adjustments; current activity showed positive gains.

• Although fourth-quarter 2015 job expansion is down from earlier in the year, it marks a more moderate, less construction-dominated employment picture.

• Between December 2014 and December 2015, Beaver County added 72 nonfarm jobs for a growth rate of 3 percent.

• Mining, construction, professional/business services and leisure/hospitality generated the largest numbers of new positions with a little help from the public sector.

• Other industries held steady or experienced only minor job declines.

• Construction employment should continue to grow in upcoming months as solar-project construction ramps up.

• Joblessness held a sustained, relatively low level in the first few months of 2016.

• In March 2016, Beaver County’s unemployment rate stood at 3.7 percent, just slightly higher than the Utah average.

• In recent weeks, first-time claims for unemployment insurance have dropped even lower than similarly-timed claims in previous years.

• So far in 2016, mining and construction have accounted for the largest numbers of new claims.

• Excluding the bumps created by large construction projects, Beaver County’s average nonfarm wage continued to slowly trend upward, but remains far below the statewide average.

• In 2015, Beaver County permit-authorized construction values skyrocketed by more than 1,000 percent.

• Permits for solar projects were primarily responsible for the overall gain.

• However, homebuilding seems to finally be on the mend. Compared to 2014, the number of new home permits is up by three-fourths.

• Don’t despair over the fourth-quarter 2015 26-percent drop in Beaver County gross taxable sales. After excluding adjustments for prior periods, current quarter sales actually increased by almost 16 percent.

• Strongest sales gains occurred in the wholesale trade, information, real estate/rental, utilities and accommodations industries.

• Business-investment expenditures in mining and manufacturing figures showed notable year-to-year declines.