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Front Page » June 29, 2004 » Local News » Carbon area experiences decades of fluctuations in popula...
Published 3,738 days ago

Carbon area experiences decades of fluctuations in population level, economy


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Carbon County's population, economy and employment have fluctuated during the last several decades.

Like most of eastern Utah, Carbon County has witnessed a declining population since 2000.

A recession and a drop in coal mining activity have combined to slow local population growth.

Traditionally, Carbon's population has increased due to the natural births minus deaths component, while migration patterns have mirrored the economic performance within the county.

The 1970s reflected a period of intense local population growth due to the energy boom, indicates the lastest economic and population profile report compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

The boom induced a period of consistently strong in-migration into the county.

However, a waning coal mining industry in the 1980s resulted in an outflow of people and the county's population fell by 9 percent.

Carbon County experienced a slight recovery in the 1990s and the population expanded by 2 percent.

Gradual growth through 2010 is forecast for the county, notes the workforce services department.

Carbon County's profile reflects a significantly older population than Utah. But the local older resident percentages remain relatively consistent with the United States average.

However, the county's 20- to 44-year-old population percentage registers significantly lower than the averages posted by Utah and the United States.

Slow economic growth has forced many local residents in the prime labor force years to leave the area to seek work opportunities.

Carbon County's employment has experienced unique ups and downs during the last 30 years, points out the department of workforce services.

The early 1970s represented a period of strong job local growth fueled by the demand for natural resources.

However, the county witnessed declining employment in the 1980s as the energy boom abated in the and technology changed coal production.

In the 1990s, local employment opportunities slowly expanded as the economy diversified and coal extraction activity resumed at an accelerated pace.

Three industries account for nearly 55 percent of the employment opportunities in Carbon County.

Government tops the list due, in part, to the presence of the College of Eastern Utah.

As a center for retail activity for neighboring counties, Carbon also has a significant trade industry.

In addition, Carbon serves as a regional center for health care.

Mining, leisure and recreation as well as professional and business services also provide important jobs in the local economy.

Industrial distribution in Carbon County has changed significantly and the resulting economic diversification has affected local average monthly wages, explains the workforce services department.

In 1992, the higher wage paying coal industry accounted for 14 percent of the total non-farm employment opportunities in the county.

But the mining industry's percentage share of the local employment pie has steadily declined.

As a result of the decline, lower wage paying trade and service related jobs currently play a significant role in local employment growth.

According to workforce service data, Carbon's average monthly wage ranks in the upper one-third statewide and registers at 89 percent of $2,510.

Overall, local workers earn 89 percent of the statewide average and only eight counties have higher wages.

During the 1990s, mining, trade and government industries provided 58 percent of the local area's total wages.

Wages paid by the mining industry continue to represent an important component of Carbon County's economy.

But wages are only part of the local income picture.

Additional income sources include dividends, interest, rents and transfer payments.

High dividends, interest and rents provide a lower percentage of income in Carbon County.

On the other hand, transfer payments generally fall under the fixed rather than the high income category.

Transfer payments include Social Security along with disability and welfare benefits, explains the department of workforce services.

The transfer payments are more sustenance payments than generators of wealth. Carbon County's dependance on transfer payments, registering at 21 percent, is nearly double the average statewide rate posted by Utah, indicates the workforce services report.

Correspondingly, wages play a relatively less important in the local community's overall economic picture, notes the department of workforce services.

At low income levels, Carbon's household income tax return percentage registers slightly higher than the state average.

As local incomes climb, the percentage registers near the state average.

When incomes reach the highest levels, the rate falls below the state average.

Carbon County witnessed erratic construction activity throughout the 1990s.

Non-residential valuation dominated the construction sector.

However, residential valuation shot up in 1998 and 1999. Repairs valuation grew consistently during the decade.

Authorized residential dwelling unit numbers climbed throughout the 1990s. Dramatic growth occurred from 1998 to 1999.

Large construction projects brought workers seeking housing into the Carbon County area.

As a component of permit-authorized residential building activity, manufactured housing units dominated the sector.

In consumer-driven economies, retail trade constitutes the major point of monetary interaction, notes workforce services.

Department stores are the leader in local sales activity, reflecting Carbon County's role as a retail center. Food stores and motor vehicle sales also continue to capture large portions of the consumer dollar in the local community.

Carbon not only acts as a retail hub, but serves as a center for business and repair services.

Gross taxable room rents indicate that the local area's recreational opportunities are starting to be developed.

During the latter part of the 1990s and continuing on into 2002, the gross taxable room revenues steadily increased, concludes the department of workforce service's latest economic and population report.


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