Economic Snapshot - February 2018
This month’s Economic Snapshots provide an overview of state and national trends highlighting indicators such as employment, demographics, housing, consumer sentiment, and more.
The U.S. labor market continued to expand in January. Year-over-year employment growth rose from 1.4 percent in December to 1.5 percent in January. The largest employment gains were seen in the education and health services, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality sectors. Information was the only sector to experience employment declines, losing 37,000 jobs over the past 12 months. The nation’s unemployment rate remained at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent. The big story was the rise in annual wage growth, which improved from 2.7 percent in December to 2.9 percent in January. This is above the average growth over the past ten years and likely a sign that employers are having to raise wages in order to attract and retain qualified labor. Economic growth remained solid in the fourth-quarter of 2017, rising 2.6 percent. The strong labor market and economic growth was reflected in consumer confidence, which increased from 123.1 in December to 125.4 in January.
Utah had one of the best performing labor markets in the nation in December. While the state’s year-over-year employment growth declined slightly from 2.8 percent in November to 2.6 percent in December, it was still the 3rd highest growth in the country. Strong hiring was seen across multiple industries, with the leisure and hospitality, education and health services, and construction sectors adding the most jobs over the past 12 months. The only two sectors to experience employment losses were natural resources and mining, and information. Utah’s unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percent to 3.1 percent from 3.2 percent. Given the strong labor market, consumer prices in Utah continued to outpace the nation in December. The Wasatch Front Consumer Price Index rose 3.6 percent over the past year, while the national rate was 2.1 percent.
Idaho’s labor market continued to outpace national averages in December. While the state’s year-over-year employment growth fell slightly from 2.3 percent in November to 2.1 percent in December, it was still the 7th highest in the country. The majority of Idaho’s industries experienced employment gains, with education and health services; government; and trade, transportation, and utilities adding the most jobs over the past 12 months. Only the professional and business services, and natural resources and mining sectors experienced job losses. The state’s unemployment rate remained well-below national levels at 2.9 percent. The strong labor market has fueled a rise in Idaho’s home prices. According to the CoreLogic Home Price Index, home prices in Idaho have risen 10.4 percent over the past year as of November.
Wyoming’s labor market improved in December. The state experienced its first year-over-year employment gain since 2015 at 0.4 percent. This is almost a full-percentage point better than the state’s growth in November of -0.6 percent. Employment in Wyoming has been centered in the natural resources and mining sector, which gained 2,400 jobs over the past 12 months. The majority of the state’s employment declines came from the government sector, which lost 1,700 jobs, and the trade, transportation, and utilities sector, which lost 1,200 jobs. Wyoming’s unemployment rate fell slightly from 4.3 percent in November to 4.2 percent in December. As the state’s labor market has struggled over the past year, so have home prices. According to the CoreLogic Home Price Index, Wyoming’s home prices have risen 3.5 percent over the past 12 months, compared to 7.0 percent nationally.