Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Iron County Economic Update

Continuing a year-long upward trend, Iron County’s employment expansion torqued up a notch in the first quarter of 2016. Most industries contributed to the robust expansion although there are a few notable exceptions. As in most Utah counties, joblessness has ticked up in recent months. However, the county’s rate remains below the national average. First-time claims for unemployment insurance have trended slightly higher than usual in the last few months contributing to overall level of joblessness. Construction permitting seems to be off to a slow start in 2016. However, it’s early days yet and activity will likely improve. Gross taxable sales increased nicely in first quarter contributing to a healthy economy with only small pockets of disquiet.
  • Between March 2015 and March 2016, Iron County’s employment base added almost 1,000 new jobs, up nearly 6 percent. 
  • Most industries joined in the overall expansion with retail trade, accommodations/food services, government, professional/business services and construction showing strong employment contributions. 
  • On the down side, both mining and information displayed significant industry-level job contraction. 
  • Joblessness has increased in recent months as layoffs took their toll. In June 2016, the county’s unemployment rate measured 4.7 percent, almost the highest level since 2013. 
  • First-time claims for unemployment insurance have measured somewhat higher than average in recent months. 
  • Construction, retail trade and professional/business services (all with a seasonal/temporary component) have generated the largest number of new claims so far this year. 
  • Iron County’s average monthly nonfarm wage has trended upward for an extended period of time. 
  • Yet, in the first quarter of 2016, wage gains stalled. A quarter does not a trend make and figures may improve in upcoming months. 
  • Construction permitting appeared somewhat slower in the first three months of 2016 when compared to the same time period in 2015. 
  • However, data for most of the year is not available and permitting in 2015 was the strongest since the recession. 
  • Gross taxable sales showed a healthy 13-percent increase between the first quarters of 2015 and 2016. 
  • Retail sales showed particularly strong gains with motor vehicle, electronics and general merchandise stores leading the pack.