Thursday, February 12, 2015

Utah County Economic Update

Jim Robson, Economist

Low Unemployment and Sustainable Growth

Economic conditions in the Mountainland Economic Service Area (Utah, Juab, Wasatch and Summit Counties) are bright with strong year-over job growth of 4.2 percent, or 9,890 new jobs from September 2013 to September 2014. This is a bit of a slowdown from 2013, when average payroll job growth in the region was a very rapid 5.2 percent above the average level of employment in 2012. There have been job increases in most major industry sectors with particular strength among professional/technical services, wholesale and retail trade, construction, food services and health care.

Utah, Summit, Wasatch and Juab Counties’ sustainable job growth and favorable labor market conditions persisted through the end of 2014 and are continuing into 2015. By December of 2014, the unemployment rate in Mountainland declined to a very favorable rate of 3.3 percent. A year ago the regional unemployment rate was 3.8 percent. Based on the strength of employment growth in recent years, job opportunities and low unemployment will continue to characterize this area. Job growth for 2015 will likely climb between 3.7 to 4.3 percent.

Utah County

•    In September 2014, the number of payroll jobs in Utah County increased by 4.1 percent over September 2013, with 8,421 new positions. New employment growth has occurred in most major industrial sectors.

•    The trade industry added the greatest number of new jobs with 1,846 positions, a year-over increase of 6.1 percent. Most subdivisions of wholesale and retail trade experienced growth, however, nonstore retailers alone accounted for about one-half of the new jobs.

•    Professional/scientific/technical services grew 12.2 percent, or 1,704 jobs. Computer systems design, management consulting and technical consulting services were responsible for most of the new opportunities.

•    Construction added 1,193 positions, expanding by 7.5 percent. The majority of these new jobs were in residential housing construction.

•    This solid construction activity is reflected in related industries such as building materials/garden supply stores, furniture stores, wood product manufacturing and furniture manufacturing, each of which also experienced healthy employment gains.

•    Healthcare and social assistance contributed 1,066 new positions, increasing by 6.6 percent.

•    Restaurants, food services and accommodations added 985 jobs, growing by 6.9 percent.

•    For the year ending in September 2014 there was a net increase of 3.3 percent in firms and worksites within Utah County. This increase of 434 units brought the total count of firms and worksites to 13,726.

•    The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Utah County was 3.3 percent in December 2014, an estimated 7,980 unemployed workers. A year earlier the unemployment rate was 3.9 percent.

•    Utah County average payroll employment was estimated to have grown in 2014 by about 3.7 percent, adding 7,400 new jobs, with a similar overall job growth performance expected in 2015.