‘Sanpete economic indicators looking bright,’ economist says
Economic indicators are painting a bright picture for the economy in Sanpete County, says Lecia Langston, a senior economist at the Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS).
Langston evaluates the county’s economy based on factors such as nonfarm job growth, unemployment rates and claims, average monthly wages, housing starts and gross taxable sales.
Langston recently released a report thar offers insight into Sanpete County’s economic standing.
The first metric highlighted in the report is nonfarm job growth. Between June 2015 and June 2016, the county added 243 new, nonfarm jobs for a year-over growth rate of 3.2 percent.
While Sanpete lags behind the statewide average job growth by 0.5 percent, the county’s job growth numbers are roughly double the national average, which Langston cites at 1.7 percent.
Government jobs account for 99 of those new jobs in the county, growing 3.2 percent from the previous year, Langston reports.
After government, the bulk of new jobs came from the construction industry, with 68 new positions created during the year—a significant 17.1 percent boost in that sector since June 2015.
Manufacturing was another major contributor to nonfarm job growth in Sanpete, Langston says. Since June 2015, the sector brought 54 new jobs to the county, a 6.3 percent boost from the previous year.
Trade and transport utilities brought 21 jobs to the county , a 7.9 percent increase.
One sector did see a decrease in jobs in the county. The leisure and hospitality industry took a 10.6 percent dive, which cost 60 jobs in one year’s time.
But Langston says employment expansion in government, construction, manufacturing and other areas was sufficient to overshadow the 60-job loss in leisure and hospitality services.
Unemployment rates are another of the economic indicators Langston uses to evaluate a county’s economy.
Langston’s report on the Sanpete economy has Sanpete sitting at a 4 percent seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate, just 0.3 percent higher than the Utah average but better than the national 4.9 percent average.
“Following Utah’s lead, Sanpete County’s unemployment rate increased somewhat in spring and early summer, only to slip back down by summer’s end,” she says in her report.
Langston says the 4 percent joblessness rate in the county is low from a historical perspective.
Meanwhile, average monthly wages in Sanpete County are on the rise, Langston says.
The DWS economic snapshot has the average monthly income in Sanpete listed as $2,310 as of the end of second quarter 2016. By comparison, Salt Lake County has an average monthly wage rate of $4,034.
“Average monthly wages continue to trend upwards,” Langston said. “The county’s second quarter 2016 year-to-year gain of more than 4 percent appeared particularly encouraging.”
The number of housing starts in Sanpete is another factor in Langston’s positive evaluation of the local economy.
In 2015, 25 dwelling-unit permits were issued. In comparison, Langston’s data from January to August of this year shows 34 dwelling permits have already been issued.
“Construction permitting for the first eight months of 2016 is up substantially from the same time period in 2015,” Langston said.
Gross taxable sales in Sanpete, a major indicator of the health of the local economy, exhibited strong second- quarter gains this year as sales increased nearly 5 percent over the second quarter of 2015.
“Sales at retail establishments registered particularly robust increases,” Langston said.
Overall, Langston says Sanpete County is headed in a positive direction economically.
“Nonfarm jobs continued a two-year streak of moderate-to-strong year-over gains,” Langston said in her report. “While joblessness edged up slightly between March and June as workers entered and reentered the labor market, unemployment had dropped back to early 2016 levels by August. The share of out-of-work individuals remains relatively low. First-time claims for unemployment insurance also are nominal, while construction permitting is up dramatically. Sales rounded out this strong performance with a healthy second-quarter gain.”
Langston’s report can be found online at http://jobs.utah.gov/wi/regions/county/sanpete.html.