Tyson Smith, Regional Economist
Broad-based economic growth does not always portend positive economic conditions in every community. Utah has seen significant labor market expansion over the last four years, growing at an annual rate of about 3 percent since 2011. And yet, economic recovery in the Castle Country
region has been less than consistent.
Carbon and Emery counties – which make up Castle Country – have seen changes to the energy sector greatly impact the primary export industry (mining/quarrying/oil and gas extraction) of the region. Export industries generate new income and investment in a region, thus a dramatic change to a local economy’s exports will reverberate throughout the economy.
- Year-over payroll employment in Emery County shrank 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2014 after growing 2.5 percent in the second quarter. The decline was driven by the goods-producing industries, which fell 13.9 percent (123 jobs). Mining was hit particularly hard, losing an annual average of 105 jobs from the third quarter of 2013. Private-sector, service-providing employment grew slightly during this period, adding 27 jobs over the year.
- Like Carbon County, Emery County had a relatively high seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate of 4.6 percent in December. Job growth in 2014 has been uneven, and with the impending closure of the Deer Creek coal mine it is unlikely that the jobless rate will reach pre-recession lows in the near future.
- The number of Emery County residents filing initial unemployment claims has been a bright spot for the county. Average weekly claims fell approximately 40 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, and have continued their downward trend at the beginning of 2015. Falling claims signal that it is doubtful that unemployment rates will increase in January.
- Average monthly wage growth in the third quarter of 2014 reflected the weak employment record; decreasing 0.1 percent from 2013. Carbon County’s wages grew 19.5 percent in the previous quarter, which underscores the variability of quarterly wage data. Wages in Emery County will not consistently have broad-based gains, so long as there remains considerable slack in labor market.
- Third quarter 2014 taxable sales in Emery increased for the fifth consecutive quarter. After increasing by over 15 percent in the first two quarter of 2014, taxable sales in the county edged up less than 1 percent in the third quarter. The manufacturing industry – the third largest industry by taxable sales – increased its business investment sales by $911,000 from the previous year.