Carbon experiences employment growth
The latest economic data compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Services indicate Carbon County has experienced hearty employment growth during the last year.
The county posted an employment expansion rate of 4.4 percent in second quarter 2005, adding nearly 380 jobs during the last 12 months.
In addition, gross taxable sales increased 17.5 percent and average quarterly industry wages rose 2.1 percent to register below the rate of inflation, noted DWS regional labor market economist Michael Hanni.
Carbon County's unadjusted unemployment rate was 5.6 percent in October 2005, down from 6.3 percent from the last year.
In the face of the good numbers it is almost unseemly to sound a note of alarm, however, a good portion of the county's new jobs appear to be temporary in nature.
The recent positive employment activity has been focused on construction and transportation activities.
Heavy and civil construction employment increased sharply with the start of work on a new gas pipeline - a temporary project.
Truck transportation was up sharply, adding nearly 75 jobs over the year. Rail support services also saw job increases.
But analysts cannot evaluate employment in Carbon County without considering the coal mining industry, pointed out the DWS labor market economist.
Between June 2004 and June 2005, coal mining had added 44 employment opportunities in the county.
Unfortunately, the employment gains reported in the local coal industry workforce have been offset by losses of jobs in the oil and gas extraction sector.
But high energy prices should make Carbon County's natural resources significantly more desirable in the coming year, noted Hanni.
In addition, the expansion witnessed in the county's coal industry has increased the demand for wholesale mining goods purchases.
Manufacturing represents a second point of economic interest in Carbon County's economy, noted Hanni.
Wood product, coal product, fabricated metal and machinery manufacturing have combined to add more than 100 jobs in local area in the last year.
While employment growth raced forward through much of 2005, it is important to remember that a portion of the increase is likely to be temporary, explained the DWS labor market economist.
However, the recent surge of employment opportunities in the local manufacturing sector bodes well for the county and should be continued to be supported.
Construction permits, a relatively volatile indicator, showed a slight decline in Carbon County during second quarter 2005.
Total new construction valuation for the county declined 12 percent, with the number of dwelling units falling nearly 23 percent.
The one factor that stands out in the data is that almost all of the declines can be attributed to slowdowns in the unincorporated areas of the county, pointed out Hanni.
The Helper, Price and Wellington areas experienced substantial increases in new residential and non-residential construction permit valuations.
In second quarter 2005, trade sales climbed while services dipped in Carbon County, continued the DWS labor economist.
Compared with second quarter 2004, gross taxable sales showed impressive strength in 2005. Even the small declines witnessed in business investment purchases for mining and the sale of business services could not dent the nearly 18 percent year-over increase.
The standout performer was wholesale trade sales. Over the past year sales to wholesalers rose 10.7 percent, adding $6.7 million to gross taxable sales.
Business investment purchases were helped mightily by construction of a pipeline through the county.
Without the increase, losses in mining purchases would have dominated the wholesale trade sales category.
Retail trade sales were also strong, increasing roughly 12 percent in the past year.
Excluding prior period payments and adjustments, second quarter 2005 was excellent for sales in the county, concluded the DWS labor economist.