Employment in Carbon County rebounds, job market expands
After experiencing six consecutive quarters of employment declines, Carbon County rebounded and posted 0.8 percent year-over job growth percent in third quarter 2004.
The expanding job market coincided with the additional easing of the local area's unemployment rate, which the latest data sets at 5.4 percent, indicated the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
However, the county's remaining economic indicators, primarily construction activity and gross taxable sales, point to the continued weakness of the Carbon County economy, explained Hanni.
The slumbering coal mining industry is starting to show signs of revitalizing
The reopening of Skyline and Consol coal production operations will help the southeastern region, but may push mining employment in Carbon County to lower levels.
As Skyline and Consol return to service, the operators will likely attempt to poach the best workers from other mines in order to ease the startups at the companies, projected DWS economist Michael Hanni.
Carbon County snapped the six-quarter employment slide partly due to the fact that the local goods and service producing sides of the labor market posted gains.
Goods producing industries employed roughly 20 more Carbon County residents in third quarter 2004 compared to the previous year.
Construction employment added 39 positions in Carbon County. A 150 percent increase in building construction spurred the expansion.
Manufacturing employment also grew across the county during third quarter 2004. The sector added 11 jobs, compared to the totals recorded in 2003.
The opening of a lumber mill more than compensated for losses in different manufacturing firms, noted Hanni.
The one negative area of the sector was mining, which experienced a 30-job contraction. The drop is likely due to the reopened mines in Emery County attracting workers from Carbon, pointed out the DWS economist.
On the service producing side of the local economy, year-over job growth registered at a tame 0.8 percent.
Climbing employment opportunities in the health care, leisure and recreation sectors barely offset the sizable losses witnessed by retail trade and professional services.
Even with a jump in the number of employment opportunities at College of Eastern Utah, the overall number of government jobs in Carbon County dipped in third quarter 2004.
The major contributor to the loss was local elementary education, which lost nearly 39 positions year-over.
Measured by permit valuation, third quarter construction activity, would have dropped significantly, year-over, without a large increase in non-residential construction valuation.
All in all, year-over construction valuation was up roughly 36 percent in the third quarter, stated Hanni.
Residential construction slowed, with the number of new permits for homes decreasing 36 percent in the last year.
Following the overall residential trend, Carbon County's home remodeling and addition projects were off by nearly 50 percent in third quarter.
But non-residential construction reported a solid showing, rising from $135,000 in 2003 to $1.9 million in the latest quarter with finalized data.
Valuation for non-residential remodeling permits in Carbon County also posted a solid increase.
In addition, the year-over growth taxable sales climbed by 5.3 percent in third quarter 2004. Driving the growth were strong jumps in business investment purchases.
Sales of construction and manufacturing capital both added more than $500,000 to Carbon County's economy compared to the totals reported in 2003.
Retail sales were more subdued, but still managed to post 6 percent growth. Eating and drinking sales, in particular, were strong.
Wholesale sales dipped slightly as growth in nondurable goods was eclipsed by a $1 million decline in durable goods sales.
Total service sales rose a strong 34.2 percent, though most of that was focused in business and education services.
Carbon County's economy will continue to seek balance in 2005, predicted Hanni. Because every change in the local mining industry pushes the county's economy in and out of equilibrium, finding the balance that fosters job growth will be difficult. Therefore, Carbon's job growth will likely be tame in 2005.