Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Washington County Economic Update

April marked the fastest year-to-year nonfarm job growth in Washington County since the end of the recession. While the rate of expansion and slipped back a notch by the end of second quarter, it remained noticeably higher than the 5-percent expansion that has characterized the recovery. Continued growth at this level could signal an overheated economy. Interestingly, several industries actually lost employment. As in most Utah counties, Washington County’s saw its jobless rate increase in the first half of the year only to retreat in recent months. Strong job growth and limited unemployment insurance claims activity suggest that labor force entrants and re-entrants are temporarily inflated the unemployed totals. Construction in both residential and nonresidential sectors is up dramatically compared to last year, while gross taxable sales remained robust.

  • Between June 2015 and June 2016, Washington County added almost 4,000 new jobs for a growth rate of 7 percent. 
  • Industries making the largest employment contributions included healthcare/social services, construction, retail trade, professional/business services and transportation. 
  • Government and real estate actually showed noticeable employment contraction. 
  • Washington County showed a brief uptick in joblessness during spring and early summer as workers entered and reentered the labor market. 
  • The county's jobless rate as returned to its previous level in recent months, measuring only 3.7 percent in August 2016. 
  • New claims for unemployment insurance followed a seasonal pattern in the eight months 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. 
  • Not only did employment increase at a rapid rate, the county’s second quarter 2016 average monthly wage improved by a robust 4.5 percent over the previous year. 
  • Both nonresidential and residential permitting increased substantially during the first eight months of 2016. 
  • New home permits are up 39 percent over last year, although a portion of the new permits are for much needed apartments. 
  • Washington County’s gross taxable sales increased by a robust 8 percent between the second quarters of 2015 and 2016. 
  • Retail sales proved particularly strong with auto dealers leading the way. In addition, tourism-related accommodations and food service sales increased decidedly.