By Matt Schroeder
Rich County appeared a little slow out of the gate in early 2015, but this is primarily due to a single employer and does not suggest broad concern for the overall economy. In fact, other indicators suggest that the outlook for Rich County is quite good. Employment in leisure and hospitality is growing quickly, taxable sales are up, and new construction of retail structures signals increasing consumer demand. Overall, the indicators are reaffirming that the long term trajectory of economic performance for the county is positive.
- Rich County employment grew at 1.4 percent in March 2015, adding 8 new positions.
- The leisure/ hospitality sector began picking up for the season, but a large drop in professional and business services, due to a single employer, is dragging down overall growth.
- The downturn in early 2015 is also due to the same single employer effect and is not a concern for the direction of Rich County's overall economic health.
- Rich County unemployment rose slightly to 3.3 percent in June 2015, but is still 0.4 percentage points down from last year and 0.2 percentage points below Utah’s rate of 3.5 percent.
- Average weekly claims have remained at or below 1 for the year, so far, through May 2015.
- Rich County wages picked up to 7.1 percent year-over growth in Q1 2015 bringing the average monthly wage to $2,229. Accelerating wage growth in Rich County is a very positive step toward labor market recovery.
- Rich County has the second lowest average wage in Utah – $1,360 per month below the state average. This is driven by the relative importance of the accommodations/food services industry which has considerably lower wages than other industries.
- Residential construction activity through May 2015 continued at the same pace as in 2014, but nonresidential permit values jumped significantly.
- Taxable sales in Q1 2015 were $4.6 million, an increase of 3.2 percent over last year.
- Low fuel prices have boosted demand for automobiles, pushing private motor vehicle sales to approximately $900 thousand - an increase of $300 thousand over last year.
- Retail food\beverages sales and utilities were also large contributors with taxable sales of about $300 and $800 thousand respectively.