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Front Page » December 2, 2008 » Carbon County News » Challeges impact Carbon's economy
Published 2,498 days ago

Challeges impact Carbon's economy

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Second quarter 2008 proved challenging for Carbon County's economy.

While the county posted a zero percent year-over change in employment for the quarter, the results for the individual months were erratic, noted Utah Department of Workforce Services regional economist Michael Hanni.

For example, Carbon experienced a 0.6 percent employment decline in April and a 0.4 percent increase in May, followed by a 0.1 year-over increase in June.

Part of the volatility experienced in Carbon County can be attributed to swings in the local construction market and the impacts of a general slowdown.

The impacts include dropping employment numbers at used car dealerships and gasoline retailers as well as fast food and full-service restaurants in Carbon County, noted the DWS economist.

Neighboring Emery County clocked slow, but steady growth in second quarter 2008.

A surge in industrial building construction, coupled with a noneconomic code change in the data, sent construction employment figures up nearly 38 percent compared to 2007 for a year-over increase of 136 jobs.

The surge helped push Emery County's overall quarterly year-over job growth figure to 2.0 percent in the quarter, the best showing since 2006, explained Hanni.

At the regional level, the employment picture for the four southeastern counties has been relatively weak for several quarters, indicated the DWS economist.

After experiencing an impressive run that started in third quarter 2004 and lasted until fourth quarter 2006, the southeastern region's year-over job growth has showed a noticeable slowing trend since first quarter 2007.

Compared with a peak of 5.1 percent year-over job expansion posted in second quarter 2006, the 0.4 percent year-over increase registered in second quarter 2008 for the region comes as something of a disappointment, commented Hanni.

Digging into the underlying data, the wind appears to have been knocked out of the counties' major economic drivers during the 2004 to 2006 spurt, pointed out Hanni.

For example, construction and mining have witnessed significant pullbacks in employment in the last year.

Likewise, manufacturing has suffered significantly due to the layoffs at the Lisbon Valley copper mine.

The losses in traditional goods-producing industries are difficult to absorb because the mining, construction and manufacturing sectors typically pay higher wages.

The first half of 2008 appears to have shown some improvement in the trends. But the data may be misleading, cautioned Hanni.

Due to an annual series of housekeeping changes to the state's data system, some of the employment increases may involve existing, but improperly accounted for jobs.

While not as large in terms of jobs as the goods-producing industries, the leisure and hospitality sector has continued to grow along with the economies in Carbon, Emery, Grand and San Juan counties, concluded Hanni.

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