Thursday, August 20, 2015

County-to-County Commuting

By Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist

“I don’t mind my long commute. The problem is, I always end up at work.” John Wagner 

The average Utah worker spends slightly more than 21 minutes traveling to their place of employment. However, not all commutes are so straightforward. Recently, I learned of the long-distance commute of several workers in a small southern Utah town. These individuals worked in the Dakota oil fields but regularly returned to their homes and families in Utah. Obviously, buried within the averages are a wide variety of commuting experiences.

Fortunately, recently released county-to-county commuting flows data from the U.S. Census Bureau sheds light upon Utah’s more detailed commuting habits. This data tracks commuter information between counties throughout the United States via the American Community Survey between 2009 and 2013.

The following interactive visualization illustrates commuting data for all Utah counties. You can download the data by clicking on the desired chart and selecting "Download", then “Crosstab.”

Not surprisingly, most county-to-county commuting occurred in neighboring counties.

In Davis County, often considered a “bedroom” community, almost as many residents commuted to neighboring Salt Lake and Weber counties (61,700) as lived and worked in Davis County itself (75,300).

Employment-rich Salt Lake County acted as a magnet for workers living in every county in Utah except Daggett County. In addition, many counties in bordering states are home to Salt Lake County in-commuters.

California provided an employment draw for numerous workers living in southern Utah.

Almost 1,000 Washington County residents commuted to Clark County, Nevada (which includes Las Vegas).

Roughly 1,400 Morgan County residents live and work in their home county. However, almost 2,700 residents work in other counties.

The oil and gas fields of Duchesne County also attracted workers from other areas. Almost 2,000 workers commuted into Duchesne County, some from as far away as Georgia, Michigan and Texas.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Explore Utah's Changing Turnover Rates

Matt Schroeder, Regional Economist

In the business community, turnover is typically regarded as an eight-letter-word. That is… two four-letter-words in rapid succession. High turnover rates generally increase costs, slow productivity, and hurt a company’s bottom-line. But from a broader economic standpoint, increasing turnover can be a sign of economic health. 

Contrary to what one might think, there was considerably less turnover during the recession then prior to it. This is because the majority of turnover is not driven by layoffs but rather by workers voluntarily changing their jobs, which is more likely to happen in good economic times, when more opportunities exist. In times of economic hardship, opportunities are fewer, so individuals are less likely to give up their jobs for new ones and the turnover rate falls.  

During the recession in Utah, the average quarterly turnover rate fell from 12% in 2007 to about 9% in 2009. Since that time, Utah’s quarterly turnover rate has crept its way back up to about 10% but is still below pre-recession levels. This is not necessarily good or bad. There are many factors that play into changing levels of turnover, such as industry shifts and demographic trends, so economists do not look for a particular turnover rate that will signify recovery. What we do try to understand are the regional characteristics that influence turnover rates such as industry composition, and the age distribution of the workforce.

The “County Turnover” tab in the visualization above allows you to see how the turnover rates of Utah’s counties have changed since the recession. Use the map at the top left to select the county or counties (ctrl + select for multiples) that you are interested in and the visualization will automatically update. Hover over points of interest in the charts to see additional detail.

Industry Composition and Turnover

As you might expect, different industries naturally have different turnover rates. Restaurants, for instance, tend to have higher employee churn than manufacturing plants. This is simply due to the nature of the jobs in these industries - some jobs tend to be interim work done by individuals in pursuit of other career goals, while others tend to be longer-term career choices.

In Utah (and nationally), the industries that tend to have the highest turnover rates are Administrative/Support/Waste Management, Accommodation/Food Services, and Arts/Entertainment/Recreation, so it stands to reason that  regional economies more dependent on these industries are likely to have higher turnover rates and visa versa. 

Select the “Industry/Age and Turnover” tab in the visualization above to explore which industries compose the largest share of your county’s employment and how that plays into your county’s turnover rate over time. 

Workforce Age Distribution and Turnover

Similarly, the age distribution of the workforce can play a major role in turnover rates. As you might expect, younger workers tend to change jobs more often. As workers move up in age they tend to settle into a career and change jobs less frequently until retirement age when average turnover rates tend to increase somewhat again.

On average in Utah, the share of the workforce between 25 and 64 years old has increased since the recession, while the share between 14 and 24 has fallen. This means that after the recession we would expect turnover rates to settle at a lower overall level, even after the economy has fully recovered.

Use the bottom half of the “Industry/Age and Turnover” tab to see how age distribution affects your county’s turnover rates.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Utah Ranks 6th In Advanced Industry Employment Concentration

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics - Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (2014Q3)
* Select from the list at the right to update the map for specific Advanced Industries - top 4 are aggregates.
* Hover over the bubbles on the map to see the LQs, relative rankings, and employment levels for each state. 
Matt Schroeder, Regional Economist

Previously, we posted a blog highlighting the trends in and importance of Utah's Advanced Industries (as defined by the Brookings Institution). As a follow-up, we've created an interactive map to compare the relative concentration of employment in Advanced Industries across the United States.

Location quotients (LQ) were calculated for the Advanced Industries in each state. LQs compare the share of workers in each industry in a specific state to the share of workers in the same industry nationwide.  This is a common metric used by economists to gauge the relative prominence of various industries in a state and answer questions like, "How dependent is Utah on oil and gas extraction?"  

A LQ of one tells us that the state share of workers employed in a given industry is identical to the U.S. share. A LQ greater than one is saying that a state has a higher concentration of employment in an industry compared to the nation as a whole, and visa versa for an LQ less than one. 


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Utah’s Advanced Industries Drive Employment and Wage Growth

Matt Schroeder, Regional Economist

A recent report by the Brookings Institution touts the importance of Advanced Industries, which are defined as those that perform a high level of research and development per worker and employ a high percentage of workers with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) training. Fifty industries are identified as “advanced” in the report, including some that you would expect, such as semiconductor manufacturing and software publishing, while others are a bit surprising, like clay products manufacturing. But all have a common thread. According to Brookings, these industries provide the bulk of new inventions and innovative processes while driving down consumer prices and spurring regional and national growth.

The Share of Utahns Employed by Advanced Industries is Larger than the National Average

Nationally, Advanced Industries employ about 9 percent of the total working population but produce about 17 percent of GDP. According to Brookings, therein lies the importance of these industries: their ability to innovate leads to greater productivity at lower cost in the long run. Lower production costs flow through to consumers in the form of lower prices; and, because per-worker productivity is higher, employees of these industries tend to earn higher wages.

In Utah, this group of industries employs about 147,000 people, or 11 percent of the state total — larger than the national share. And like Advanced Industries nationwide, Utahns in