Job growth in Washington County slows from last year

Construction continues on one of the mixed commercial-apartment buildings that make up part of the City View Project in downtown St. George, Utah, Sept. 20, 2019 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Job growth in Washington County has declined overall from last year, though some specific industries have seen an increase.

Although job growth throughout Washington County declined by nearly 1% from last October, the area is experiencing modest gains in several industries including health care, education and hospitality. Other industries showing job growth include retail trade and government jobs.

Lecia Langston, senior economist for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, said while the local economy is not as robust as it was during its peak in 2017 which had a 7% growth, it is still doing better than many other places.

“It’s mostly slower growth rather than industries losing a lot of employment,” Langston said. “Everything that is coming in tells us that job growth is definitely slowing, but at 3.3% anywhere else it would be really fast growth. Nationally, we are seeing a 1.4% job growth.”

Mining is one industry in Washington County that is showing some job loss.

“The sand and gravel pits of Washington County is not a big sector, but it is down,” Langston said. “Still, this relates back to construction and the slow down there. It’s growing but now it’s growing just a little bit, instead of during the expansion in 2017 when things were exploding.”

Even though economists say the numbers are healthy, they are slowing.

“What this tells us is we are coming off the top of the cycle at this point in time,” Langston said. “At this point, we’ve already hit the peak in the cycle and whether we have a nice soft landing will be determined what happens nationally. This will really dictate what happens here in the future.”

Statewide, Utah’s nonfarm payroll employment for October also grew by an estimated 3.3% adding 51,200 jobs to the economy since October 2018. Utah’s current employment level is nearly 1.6 million people.

October’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate fell by two-tenths of a percentage point to 2.5%. Approximately 41,000 Utahns were unemployed and actively seeking work during October. The national unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.6%.

“October is the springboard month for the upcoming holiday shopping season,” said Mark Knold, Chief Economist at the Department of Workforce Services, in a release. “October’s profile helps gauge the consumer’s stance entering this important economic period. Utah’s current strong numbers point to an anticipated collectively healthy and positive attitude.”

Utah’s private sector employment grew by 3.7% year-over-year with the addition of 47,400 positions. All 10 of the private sector major industry groups measured in the establishment survey posted net job increases in October.

The largest private-sector employment increases were in professional and business services at 11,000 jobs, education and health services at 9,600 jobs, and construction at 6,900 jobs.

The fastest employment growth occurred in construction (6.4%); information (5.1%); and professional and business services (5.1%).

To read the Utah Employment Summary, click here.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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