Tooele County’s job recession may come to an end this summer.
March 2014’s 0.9 percent job loss in Tooele County compared to March 2013 was the lowest rate of job loss in the county since November 2012.
“Things appear to have settled down and the impact of recent changes have been absorbed,” said Jim Robson, regional economist with the Utah Department of Workforce Services. “Jobs in Tooele County have started to level out, and we are looking forward to seeing some growth, possibly by this summer.”
It has been 18 months since Tooele County posted a gain in local jobs, when one month’s job numbers are compared to the same month of the previous year.
The “month over month” comparison is used by economists to measure job creation — or loss — because monthly job numbers are not seasonally adjusted, making comparison from one month to the following month inaccurate.
In November 2012 the number of non-farm related jobs in Tooele County was 15,967. That was a 1.0 percent decrease, or loss of 171 jobs, from the number of jobs reported in November 2011.
However, a six month trend of decreasing job loss has state economists predicting that the county’s job count may start growing as early as this summer.
Robson attributed the county’s past job loss numbers primarily to the closure of Deseret Chemical Depot, reductions in the county’s hazardous waste industry, and layoffs in local government.
July 2013 was the worst month for job losses in the county. The number of jobs fell by 730, or a 5 percent loss, compared to July 2012. But during the same time period, the county’s unemployment rate fell from 6.6 percent to 6.0 percent.
While the county continued to lose jobs in March 2014, the unemployment rate for Tooele County dropped from 5.3 percent in March 2013 to 5.1 percent in March 2014.
The county’s unemployment rate has dropped, despite the loss of local jobs, largely due to the economic strength of neighboring counties.
“Tooele County’s workforce continues to make use of job growth along the Wasatch Front,” said Robson.
In March 2014, Salt Lake County’s job count was 20,000 over March 2013 for a 3.3 percent increase.
While the state’s unemployment rate increased slightly in March 2014 by two tenths of a percentage point — from 3.9 percent in February to 4.1 percent for March — Tooele County’s unemployment rate for March remained at 5.1 percent. It was that same rate last February.
Since January 2013 the county’s unemployment rate has averaged 5.2 percent, slightly below the 24-year average of 5.4 percent.