By Matt Schroeder
Cache County ended 2014 with steady job growth and deepening consumer confidence. Taxable sales were up more than 5 percent with particular strength in retail markets. Motor vehicle sales were particularly strong thanks in part to falling oil prices. Unemployment in Cache is the lowest in the state. Employment growth was not particularly impressive, but it was consistent and relatively broad based. Wages, which have been slow to keep up with the rest of the recovering labor market, are still exhibiting lackluster growth, 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.
- Cache County maintained consistent 3.5 percent year-over job growth in Q4 2014 adding 1,863 jobs. Every quarter in 2014 has exceeded year-over increases of 1,500 – a level of job creation not seen in Cache County since prior to the recession.
- Job growth has been very broad based in Cache County with every major industry sector experiencing positive change since Q4 2013. Major contributors include the accommodations/food services industry, and the retail trade industry, adding 363 and 288 new jobs respectively.
- Cache County maintained the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 2.7 percent in March 2015, down 0.5 percentage points from the same time last year.
- Initial unemployment claims increased significantly in the last weeks of March and into early April. The 4-week moving average hit more than 60 new claims the week of April 4th. The majority of these new claims are from the manufacturing industry which often sees increased claims due to temporary shutdowns in Cache County this time of year.
- Cache County wages maintained consistently moderate growth of 1.9 percent from Q4 2013 to Q4 2014. At $2,724 per month it is nearly $1,000 below the state average of $3,705. 9 of 11 major industry sectors posted average wages more than 20 percent below the state averages.
- Taxable sales were up for the eleventh consecutive quarter at 5.3 percent year-over, reaching $405 million. Retail sales of food/beverages, general merchandise and motor vehicles topped the list in terms of total taxable sales with $58, $53, and $29 million respectively. Food services/drinking places, and professional/scientific/ technical services contributed the most to the increase over last year with additional sales of $3.8 and $3.6 million respectively.
- Cache County experienced significant construction activity in 2014. Residential construction permits increased 16 percent to 535 units and the value of permitted nonresidential construction increased by 127 percent over 2013.