By Matt Schroeder
Morgan County ended 2014 on a very positive note. Employment grew at a faster rate than any other county in the state, and wages, which have been slow to keep up with the rest of the recovering labor market, picked up considerably. Taxable sales were up 26 percent. Unemployment was the second lowest in the state and initial unemployment insurance claims are back to pre-recession levels. Overall, the roots of recovery appear to be firmly set in the region and Morgan County’s economic performance at the end of 2014 leaves continued-optimism for 2015 as the rational expectation.
- Morgan County was the fastest growing county in Utah posting strong 6.8 percent year-over growth and adding 128 jobs in Q4 2014.
- The high rate of employment growth was driven by the professional/scientific/technical services industry which increased 37 percent adding 47 of the 128 new jobs in Morgan County over the year since Q4 2013. The mining industry was also a significant contributor, adding 30 new employees year-over.
- Morgan County posted the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 2.8 percent in March 2015, down 0.7 percentage points from last year.
- Initial unemployment claims in Morgan County remained at about 4 per week on average in the first week of April 2015.
- Morgan County wage growth improved to 3.6 percent year-over in Q4 2014 after growing just 1.9 percent in Q3. At $3,146 per month, Morgan County’s average monthly wage remains below the state average of $3,705, but accelerating growth is a positive sign for the overall health of the local labor market. One industry of note was construction, which employs about 16 percent of the workers in Morgan County, where wages grew by 11.7 percent.
- Taxable sales in Morgan County were up 26 percent year-over reaching $25.9 million, after sales of $20.5 million in Q4 2013. The manufacturing industry was by far the largest contributor growing from $1.2 million in Q4 2013 to $3.5 million in Q4 2014 - almost a 200 percent increase.
- Residential construction activity slowed to 80 permitted units in 2014, a 12 percent decrease, but the value of permitted nonresidential construction was more than 4 times the 2013 value.