Sluggish minaing industry impacts Carbon County economy
Carbon County's economy stumbled out of the gate in first quarter 2003.
Total non-farm jobs dropped 1.3 percent, representing the first employment decline reported by the county in six quarters.
Recessionary impacts have combined to slow Carbon County's economy, pointed out the Utah Department of Workforce Services. The local unemployment rate has remained steady at about 7 percent.
Non-farm jobs in Carbon County slipped by 1.3 percent during the first quarter.
A drop in goods production employment accounted for the majority of the 111 lost jobs, indicated the workforce services department. A broad based drop in manufacturing was the primary reason for the decline.
Manufacturing reported declines in wood, printing, machinery and fabricated metal products. Employment also fell in the leisure-hospitality industry and temporary help agencies.
The local mining industry posted an upswing in the last two quarters of 2002, but leveled off and reported a slight decrease in employment, continued workforce services. The majority of the losses were related to the completion of oil and gas exploration projects.
Coal mining jobs remained basically unchanged during the last half of 2002. Construction employment in Carbon County rose for residential and special trade building, but dropped in heavy construction.
The local service producing industries slipped 0.1 percent in first quarter 2003. The industries include trade, transportation, information, recreation, lodging and food services, explained DWS.
Jobs were lost in lodging, food services and professional-business services, particularly at temporary help agencies. The losses barely offset gains in health care at clinics and nursing facilities and at private education businesses.
Retail and wholesale trade added local employment opportunities. Retail jobs increased for motor vehicle dealers and at non-store establishments. Financial activity also posted expanding employment, primarily in real estate services.
As measured by permit authorizations, construction activity in Carbon County went in two different directions during first quarter 2003. Non-residential activity plummeted, while residential construction projects expanded in the county.
Measured by total valuation, construction tumbled 58 percent, primarily due to the lack of major commercial building.
Meanwhile, housing starts rose a healthy 27 percent and the valuation for new residential buildings and remodels more than doubled.
Non-residential building-permit declines reflected the lack of major commercial projects. In comparison, a $1.5 million industrial building and a $1.6 million retail store remodeling project were approved during first quarter 2002.
It should be noted that construction data can swing quickly from one quarter to another, depending on the size and type of permits issued, pointed out DWS.
Gross taxable sales declined 8.1 percent in Carbon County during first quarter 2003. Retail activity slipped 8.6 percent as sales tumbled at food stores, motor vehicle dealers and building-garden establishments.
Sales also declined for construction, manufacturing, services and utilities. Mining sales rose, but could not offset the losses.
The general economic malaise, nationally and in Utah, will continue to hamper economic growth in Carbon County throughout 2003.
A sluggish mining industry means that the overall local economy will remain fragile until demand becomes more robust within the nation and state, concluded the department of workforce services.