By Matt Schroeder
Despite a little slowing in job growth, Box Elder County ended 2014 on a relatively positive note. Wages, which have been slow to keep up with the rest of the recovering labor market, finally turned a corner. Taxable sales were up with particular strength in motor vehicles thanks in part to falling oil prices. Unemployment continues to fall and initial unemployment insurance claims are back to pre-recession levels. Employment growth slowed a bit, but overall, the roots of recovery appear to be firmly set in the region and Cache County’s economic performance at the end of 2014 leaves continued-optimism for 2015 as the rational expectation.
Box Elder County
- Box Elder County added just 184 new jobs, slowing to 1.1 percent year-over employment growth in Q4 2014 after seeing 4.4 percent growth in Q3.
- The manufacturing and construction industries led job growth in Box Elder, adding 130 and 78 jobs respectively. The services industries, however, experienced declines with only a couple of exceptions. Health care/social services added 80 positions over last year and management of companies experienced large gains, but the effect was offset by job losses in other areas of professional/business services.
- Box Elder County’s unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in March 2015. This is 0.4 percentage points below the March 2014 rate but still slightly higher than the state average of 3.4 percent.
- Initial claims for unemployment insurance are averaging below 20 per week as of the first week of April 2015. Levels this low have not been seen in Box Elder since 2007.
- Box Elder County wages took off at 6.3 percent year-over growth in Q4 2014 and rose to $3,076 per month. This is even faster than Utah's average monthly wage growth which accelerated to 4.3 percent and came in at $3,705. This may be a signal that wages are finally starting to catch up to the overall labor market improvements we've been seeing over the course of the recovery.
- Taxable sales in Box Elder County increased 5.9 percent year-over in Q4 2014, reaching more than $154 million. Motor vehicle dealers increased $3.8 million to $19 million, and manufacturing increased $3 million to $19.4 million. General merchandise retail fell slightly to $20 million.
- Residential construction has continued to cool since 2010. Permitted units were down to 142 in 2014, a 24 percent decrease since 2013. The value of permitted nonresidential construction increased by 43 percent over 2013.