Thursday, April 27, 2017

Health Insurance: Who’s covered in Utah?

Census Bureau Estimates Provide Answers about Utah Health Insurance Coverage

By Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist

“Most Americans want health insurance.” Jacob Lew

The U.S. Census Bureau just published its Small Area Health Insurance Estimates (SAHIE) for counties and states while the national discussion on health care laws receives renewed attention. Is this a coincidence? Yes, but a timely one. This post examines how health insurance coverage for Utahns has changed and also the demographics of who has coverage and who does not.

Tracking Utahns Under 65 Years of Age

Small Area Health Insurance Estimates cover the population under 65 years of age. Of course, virtually all residents 65 and older are covered by government-provided Medicare. Because the estimates date back to 2008, two years before the signing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the available figures provide an indication of the effect of the ACA on health insurance coverage in Utah and its counties.

More Utahns have Health Insurance

Between 2008 and 2015, the number of Utahns under 65 years old covered by health insurance increased by 284,000. Not only did the actual covered increase, but the share of non-senior population with health insurance also gained ground expanding from less than 84 percent to more than 88 percent — an increase of 4.7 percentage points.

Only Millard County experienced a very slight 0.3 percentage point decline in health insurance coverage although the actual number of persons covered increased by 113. Daggett, Rich, Kane and Grand counties showed the highest growth in under-65 coverage; each showed increases of at least 9 percentage points.

In 2015, counties in northern Utah generally showed the highest level of non-senior health insurance coverage. In Morgan, Davis, Box Elder, Tooele and Cache counties, health insurance rates top 90 percent. On the other end of the scale, rural counties in central and southern Utah display the lowest coverage. In San Juan, Millard, Duchesne and Wayne counties, health insurance rates for those under 65 measured 83 percent or less.

Those under 19 saw the greatest gains. Coverage rates for these young people increased from 87 percent in 2008 to 93 percent in 2015. Utah males experienced a larger gain in coverage between 2008 and 2015 (5 percentage points) than did females (4 percentage points), although females were more likely than men to carry health insurance in both years. Health insurance rates for those with the lowest incomes showed the most improvement (10.4 percentage points). However, their coverage shares remain roughly 10 points below average.

Wait, There’s More…

Friday, March 31, 2017

What’s Your County’s Population?

U.S. Census Bureau releases 2016 county population estimates.

By Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist

“In a region with a growing population, if you’re doing nothing, you’re losing ground.” Stewart Udall

The Census Bureau just released population estimates for counties and metropolitan statistical areas across the United States. Yes, it was just a few months ago that Utah made headlines as the fastest-growing state in the nation. So, it should come as no surprise that several Utah sub-areas also appeared on the fastest-growing lists.

San Juan County ranked as the fastest growing county in the nation with a 2016 growth estimate of 7.6 percent. Keep in mind that less than 17,000 people live in the county. In other words, a small numeric change in this less-populated county can result in a large percent change.

In addition, three Utah regions ranked among the top 20 fastest-growing Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the country. The St. George, Utah MSA (sixth), Provo-Orem, Utah MSA (seventh) and the Logan, Utah-Idaho MSA (20th) all attained top-20 status. See additional information on the estimates after the “jump.”

Pick a Number, Any Number

Because the Census Bureau actually counts the population only once every decade, these figures are estimates. Plus, they aren’t the only estimates in town. The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute has recently assembled the Utah Population Committee (UPC) to reinstitute the population-estimates work previously conducted by the Utah Population Estimates Committee (UPEC). The estimates can be found here.

Census Bureau estimates use the same methodology in producing population figures for every county in the nation. Therefore, for nationwide comparisons, Census Bureau estimates may have the advantage. On the other hand, UPC population estimates have the benefit of local-analyst expertise and additional data sources.

Friday, February 17, 2017

What happened to Utah's construction workers?

The Fall and Rise of Utah’s Construction Industry
What happened to construction workers?

By Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist

"It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” –Charles Darwin

The pre-Great-Recession economic boom was built on the back on the construction industry. In Utah and across the nation, a speculative housing-price bubble resulted in a huge demand for construction workers. However, once that bubble popped, many construction personnel were left without employment. What happened to that workforce? And once expansion returned, where did the building industry find a replenishing supply of employees? While a notable number of construction workers experienced a spell of persistent nonemployment during the recession, many found jobs in the construction industry as well as other industries. Still others moved to nearby states for employment while a smaller number moved even farther afield. When the industry began expanding again it drew workers from the same industries that had hired separated construction employees during the recession. In turn, states which had attracted separated construction workers were typically those which fed Utah construction hires on the upswing.

To read the entire study, click "Read More."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Better, Faster, Smarter... Check out our new website design!

Go to: JOBS.UTAH.GOV/WI to check it out

Information is the treasure of the current age. The instant access to information since the advent of the Internet has transformed societies in ways that thousands of years prior had not. Information can lead to knowledge, and — with increased knowledge — better efficiencies and way of life. If information is vital, then the presentation of information has also risen to a prominent level. With this, the Utah Department of Workforce Services has made some organizational improvements to its economic webpages. Various economic data categories are not mutually exclusive, but we made an effort to compartmentalize economic data for a better organizational display and navigation. We also added a new feature area that taps into various national data elements and measurements from the Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED), the database of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. FRED’s added value is national — and Utah — economic indicators. More on FRED’s contribution below.

Depending on the subject, economic data can be categorized as either broad or specific. For example, the demographic makeup of an area and how that impacts an economic structure is a broad-subject approach. Conversely, a current monthly snapshot of the Utah economy, its job growth and unemployment rate is a more specific observation. Our economic webpage has four “portals” through which to “categorize” and search for information. One portal is broad, while the other three are more specific in nature.

Topic Portals

The monthly employment profile just mentioned is a specific topic and gets its own “portal,” entitled Employment Update. Here, the most current Utah economic performance can be explored and summarized. The information found here is what often gets cited in the local news media in reference to the current Utah job performance and unemployment rate.

The second specific “portal” is labeled Local Insights. This is a quarterly profile of the Utah economy down to a county level. Each county is summarized with its own economic performance, including job growth, unemployment rate, housing starts, taxable sales and other profile variables. The common theme here is a county-specific approach.

The third specific “portal” is Reports and Analysis. Workforce Services’ economic forte is the labor market. Things over and above the everyday reporting on the labor market are presented here. Sometimes we do special economic studies, other times we will report on specific economic groups within the labor force, like women or veterans. Anything we do that is not an often repeated or ongoing report are grouped here.

The final “portal,” and possibly the one that will be most used, is labeled Economic Data. The core of our data collection and analysis is concentrated here. Employment data, occupational data, wage information and demographic profiles are just some of the major economic themes found in this area.

FRED's on site

As mentioned earlier, we have added an economic indicator area tapping into FRED, which is a massive compilation of economic data from various sources — primarily government statistical agencies, but also some nongovernmental organizations. Workforce Services economists have gone through the list and selected a handful of the most useful data series for gauging the performance of Utah’s macro economy and gaining insights into expected trends. Utah functions within the national economy, so the national economic indicators profiled here are intended to also be guiding influences on the Utah economy. These indicators include composite indexes; a recession probability indicator; leading indicators, such as construction permits and the yield curve; coincident indicators, such as real GDP and employment; and price indicators, such as the consumer price index, regional housing prices, and oil and gas prices. Each chart has a detailed description of what the data represent and how they may be useful.

Keeping relevant with the fast-changing pace of the Internet and data presentation is our goal at Workforce Services. We hope these changes help to better present our broad package of economic data offerings.