Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Beaver County Economic Update

Following strong-to-moderate employment growth in 2015, Beaver County’s labor market expansion stalled in early 2016 as several industries (in particular mining) took job hits. In addition, unemployment insurance claims data activity suggests the county suffered outright employment contraction in second quarter. These job losses will most likely continue to bump up Beaver County’s currently low unemployment rate. So far in 2016, construction activity appears relatively low especially compared with 2015 which was a banner year for both nonresidential and residential building. Strong gains in gross taxable sales provide the best current economic news. Overall, the county’s economy will be tested as 2016 continues.

  • Between March 2015 and March 2016, Beaver County’s nonfarm jobs increased but just barely. 
  • Nonagricultural employment expanded a mere 17 jobs for a year-over gain of less than 1 percent. 
  • Not included in the nonfarm totals are an additional 43 positions in covered agriculture. 
  • Employment declines in mining, transportation/warehousing and professional business services dragged down overall growth. 
  • On the nonfarm side, only retail trade created a significant number of new jobs. 
  • On the horizon, construction job counts should improve in upcoming months as the large solar projects progress. 
  • However, based on claims activity, layoffs in mining will continue to temper the numbers. 
  • Beaver County's unemployment rate shot up to 5.5 percent in June 2016 and reflects significant layoffs in mining. 
  • First-time claims for unemployment insurance skyrocketed in May and June primarily due to those mining layoffs. 
  • With its project-to-project nature, construction has also generated a substantial amount of unemployment insurance claims thus far in 2016. 
  • Increases in Beaver County’s average monthly wage decelerated in recent months although continuing to trend upward. 
  • Beaver County’s first quarter 2016 average nonfarm wage of roughly $2,700 measured noticeably below the statewide average ($3,600). 
  • In the first few months of 2016, Beaver County construction permitting seems off to a slow start. 
  • Few dwelling-unit permits have been issued and new nonresidential values pale in comparison to the huge solar projects authorized in 2015. 
  • Between the first quarters of 2015 and 2016, Beaver County’s gross taxable sales increased by a whopping 20 percent. 
  • Strong sales at building material/garden stores coupled with substantial business investment expenditures generated a large portion of the first-quarter gain.