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Associate Professor of Economics Nathan Perry Presents Quarterly County Economic Reports

Reports shows mixed results in local economic growth

After several quarters of strong employment growth, Delta County experienced a pause between Q1 of 2018 and Q1 of 2019, increasing by only 22 employees in a year’s time. Small growth in construction, manufacturing and public administration nearly compensated for the retraction in health care related jobs. The job trends resulted in Delta County unemployment rate moving higher in the first quarter of 2019.

“Unemployment increased slightly in Delta County from 4% in 2018 to 4.77%,” said Perry. “This increase is quite small and is not a cause for alarm.”

While the jobs report shows slower employment growth, the city and county sales tax numbers from the previous year have increased. However, lodging taxes were down by around $3,000 from last year.

Just south of Delta County, Montrose saw employment increase during the same time period by 521 jobs. According to Perry construction and real estate were the largest contributors while retail and manufacturing also had strong gains.

Perry noted that, “Montrose sales and use taxes are up for both the city and the county, with city numbers increasing by 4.59% and county number increasing by 15.32%."

The report revealed Montrose unemployment spiked in January to 5.3% pushing the quarterly unemployment rate to 4.63% from 4.3%.

The Perry report highlights that, “compared to 5 years ago, employment in Montrose County is up 3,472 jobs, and compared to 10 years ago, employment is up 1,609 demonstrating that over the long-term Montrose continues a gradual upward trajectory of growth." 

The Montrose report showed that construction added 323 jobs and health care added 209 jobs. Both also combined for the biggest increases in wages.

The CMU economic report is an ongoing university analysis meant to track economic trends on a quarterly basis with the intent of supporting the needs of business, government, communities and university partners in planning for the future.

Mesa County experienced the most growth in the region with jobs increasing by 2,281 since the first quarter of 2018. Perry notes that construction and health care were the big gainers on the heels of energy being the largest contributor in 2017 and 2018.

Despite strong job growth, unemployment ticked up slightly in the first quarter moving to 4.5% from a previous year low of 3.8%.

The Perry reports are a service provided by CMU to the communities of Delta, Montrose and Mesa Counties.
CMU President Tim Foster recently expanded the analysis offering to Delta County in response to a request from the county and in order to provide a regional approach to the tri-county economic trend tracking.

“Dr. Perry is the only person on the West Slope doing this kind of unique, granular and ongoing economic analysis that is both academic and local,” said Foster. “The idea is that if Dr. Perry identifies trends in the data through time, his research will allow CMU to assist local governments in responding and planning for changing economic conditions."

The full Delta, Montrose and Mesa County reports can be reviewed online.


Written by David Ludlam