Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Washington County Economic Update

Washington County started 2016 with a slightly better employment performance than the previous year. While most of 2015 produced year-to-year growth rates near the 5-percent mark, first quarter 2016 rates popped up to the 6-percent mark. While 6 percent expansion is not far off normal for Utah’s Dixie, higher job growth could signal an overheated economy. As in most Utah counties, Washington County’s has seen its jobless rate edge up in recent months. Strong job growth and limited unemployment insurance claims activity suggest that labor force entrants and re-entrants are temporarily inflating the unemployed totals. Overall, construction permitting is running above average and gross taxable sales are increasing nicely. All indicators continue to point to a currently healthy economy.
  • Between March 2015 and March 2016, Washington County generated 3,400 new nonfarm jobs for a year-to-year growth rate of 6 percent. 
  • Construction took the lead in job creation followed closely by healthcare/social services and retail trade. 
  • Professional/business services also added a substantial number of new positions. 
  • All major industries showed job gains, although manufacturing employment barely held steady. 
  • As in many Utah counties, joblessness has ticked upwards in recent months, but it remains relatively low at 4.1 percent in June 2016. 
  • New claims for unemployment insurance followed a seasonal pattern in the first half of 2016 and provide no signs of large lay-offs. 
  • Retail trade, professional/business services and leisure/hospitality services (all with seasonal or temporary characteristics) have generated the largest numbers of first-time claims so far this year. 
  • Washington County’s average monthly nonfarm wage continues to gradually increase. 
  • Between the first quarters of 2015 and 2016, the average wage improved by roughly 3 percent. 
  • Residential construction permitting started the year in fine shape. 
  • Home permits are up almost 40 percent for first quarter 2016 compared to last year. 
  • New nonresidential permitting remained essentially flat. 
  • Gross taxable sales began its sixth straight year of expansion. 
  • Between the first quarters of 2015 and 2016, Washington County sales jumped by 11 percent. 
  • Motor vehicle sales, building material/garden stores, general merchandise stores and accommodations/food services were the big sales winners of first quarter 2016.