The Wasatch Front North Edges Ever Closer to Full Recovery
By Matt Schroeder
Post-recession economic recoveries are long and arduous processes no matter what, but recessions involving financial crises are historically even slower. Utah and the Wasatch Front North have been plugging along steadily for the last few years recovering jobs at an average rate of 2 to 3 percent per year and reaching a point where most counties have surpassed pre-recession levels. Yet economists still talk in terms of recovery rather than in terms of normal economic expansion. Why is that? How do we know when the recovery is complete?
There are a variety of indicators that economists look at when determining the relative progress of a recovery. One important one is the unemployment rate. When the unemployment rate bottoms-out (i.e. when it stops falling), it may be a sign that labor markets have reached a “natural” or stable state, and thus recovered. In the Wasatch Front North, the unemployment rate fell 0.6 percentage points from December 2013 to December 2014, indicating that the recovery may not yet be complete, but it continues to edge ever closer.
- Morgan County posted strong 7.2 percent year-over-year payroll job growth in the third quarter of 2014 adding 136 jobs to the economy over the last year and ranking as the second fastest growing county in the state in terms of employment.
- The accommodations and food services industry was particularly notable adding 75 jobs, and the professional, scientific, and technical services industry was also a major contributor, adding 50 new employees since the third quarter 2013.
- December 2014 posted a 3.0 percent unemployment rate for Morgan County. This is down 0.7 percentage points since December 2013.
- The average number of initial unemployment claims filed per week in the fourth quarter of 2014 was 3 claims, about 3 fewer claims than the fourth quarter 2013 weekly average of 6 claims.
- Average monthly wage growth decelerated in the third quarter to 1.2 percent year-over year, after growing 2.7 percent in the second quarter. At $2,870 per month, the level remains below the state average of $3,429. Average wages for the accommodations and food services industry, which accounts for more than 10 percent of payroll employment in Morgan County, fell by 24.3 percent year-over-year.
- Taxable sales in Morgan County were up a whopping 40 percent year-over-year reaching $25.3 million, after sales of $18.1 million in the same quarter last year. The manufacturing industry was the largest contributor with $2.4 million in additional sales over the third quarter of 2013.