Monday, May 22, 2017

Who Works for Big (and Small) Business?

Local Employment Dynamics Provide Insight into Firm-Size Demographics

By Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist

“Running businesses of all sizes and stages, I've seen the challenges companies face in trying to identify, attract, and retain talent.” --Brian Lee

Economists at the Utah Department of Workforce Services have often used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Local Employment Dynamics (LED) program to analyze Utah’s labor market and economy. In this blog post, we use LED information to analyze the demographics of firm size employment. Keep in mind that firm size is only tracked for private firms.

Click through the gray story points in the visualization below to explore employment and demographic data by firm size. Bullets in each page outline trends and patterns for each chart. Use the interactive dropdown menus to discover information for individual counties and industries.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Census Bureau Tool Provides Labor-Force Insight for Utah

Across the United States, jobs are quantified through each state’s unemployment insurance program. Those programs provide the potential for laid-off workers to receive unemployment benefits — the goal being to bridge the gap between workers’ lost jobs and their next jobs. An eligible recipient’s weekly benefit amount is based upon their earnings from recent work. This begs the question, how does Utah’s unemployment insurance program know how much an individual recently earned while working?

That answer is supplied by all businesses that hire workers, as they must report their employees and pay as mandated by the unemployment insurance laws. Companies identify their individual workers and those workers’ monetary earnings for a calendar quarter. As businesses are identified by their industrial activity and geographic location, it is through the unemployment insurance program that aggregate employment counts by industry and location are calculated.

Yet each state’s profiling of individuals is quite minimal in the unemployment insurance program. The U.S. Census Bureau can bring more light to the overall labor force by supplementing said information with gender, age, race/ethnicity and educational attainment (imputed from American Community Survey responses) for Utah’s labor force.

The Census Bureau packages this information through their Local Employment Dynamics program and makes available said data on its website. Here at the Department of Workforce Services, we recently downloaded and packaged Utah-specific data from said website and summarized it in the attached visualization.

Various data “tabs” are available, presenting Utah’s economy from different angles, ranging from industry shares within the economy to the age-group distributions of the labor force, to gender and race distributions. These labor variables can be viewed for the state as a whole, or by each individual county.

Some statewide highlights:

Industry — industrial distribution is quite diverse, which provides strength within the economy. Distributions do fluctuate with time, with manufacturing seeing its share lessen while health care and professional and business services shares have increased.

Age — the bulk of Utah’s labor force is composed of 25- to 44-year-olds. Older worker shares have increased over the past 15 years, yet still remain a non-dominant portion of Utah’s labor force. The youngest segments of the labor force declined noticeably during the Great Recession due to less participation, and that trend remains.

Educational Attainment — turnover rates are understandably highest with workers under the age of 25 as they strive to build their educational foundation and also find their niche in the labor market. A trend does stand out where the more education that a worker attains, the lower the turnover rate businesses experience from said educational classes.

Race/Ethnicity — Whites account for around 80 percent of Utah’s labor force. The Asian community is small but slowly increasing in share, and is also characterized with the lowest turnover rate and the highest new-hire wages.

Gender — males comprise about 55 percent of Utah’s labor force. The female share of 45 percent is higher than the national average. Roughly 35 percent of working females work part-time compared to 15 percent for males. Therefore, female new-hire wages are considerably lower than male new-hire wages. (Note: employer reporting into the unemployment insurance system is not hourly wage rate reporting but instead total calendar quarter wages paid. Therefore, calculations can only be made upon total quarterly wages, and part-time employment weakens this measure).

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.