Friday, February 8, 2019

Splitting the Economy between Goods and Services


Mark Knold, Supervising Economist

An economy can be segmented into various industrial divisions. One of the simplest is into private sector goods-producing and private sector service-providing segments. By saying “private sector” we are implying a third segmentation, that being government employment (i.e., public sector). But the private sector is the tangible driver of an economy; therefore, it is informative to isolate upon the private sector.

As the name implies, the goods-producing segment features the production of a physical good. These usually come out of the mining, construction, or manufacturing industries; thus, these industries are the goods-producing segment. In contrast, the service-providing segment does not produce physical goods but instead provides services to consumers or businesses within the economy. Some of these might be the sale, repair, maintenance, or distribution of the goods-production products, but that is different than the production of the physical product itself.

Why do we separate the economy into these two segments? The simple answer is the production of a physical good versus a non-physical good. But the answer also goes deeper. There is a general partition between the two segments by the skills and education requirements needed, as well as a general wage differentiation.

Monday, December 17, 2018

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis releases prototype gross domestic product estimates for counties


New GDP figures will add to the local economic-analysis tool box

By Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist

“We will find neither national purpose nor personal satisfaction in a mere continuation of economic progress, in an endless amassing of worldly goods. We cannot measure national spirit by the Dow Jones Average, nor national achievement by the Gross National Product.”  Robert Kennedy
As a regional economist, I’m routinely asked for gross domestic product (GDP) figures for Utah’s counties. After all, nationally, GDP is routinely tracked as an economic indicator. “Sorry,” I say, “the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) doesn’t produce GDP statistics for counties (unless they are a metropolitan statistical area). But data-lovers, “the times, they are a-changin’.”
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis has just released proto-type county GDP statistics for 2012 to 2015. You can explore the data in the visualization that follows.


Yes, the proto-type information is dated. However, data-users can take a first-look at the series and assist BEA by providing feedback and comments on the prototype data via e-mail at gdpbycounty@bea.gov. Official statistics are scheduled for release in December 2019.
When the official data is released, this new data will add to our ability to analyze Utah’s local economies.
What do the proto-type figures reveal? Here are a few highlights:
In 2015, eight Utah counties experienced a decline in GDP following a trend similar to 2013 and 2014.
  • Less-populated counties were most likely to experience a bout of declining GDP.
  • Daggett County, one of Utah’s smallest in both geographic size and population, showed the highest GDP growth rate in 2015 with Washington County showing the highest rate of expansion among more-populated counties.
  • It wasn’t uncommon for Utah counties to experience at least one year of GDP contraction between 2013 and 2015.
  • Not surprisingly, the vast majority of GDP is generated along the Wasatch Front.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Utah Holiday Retail Trade Seasonal Hiring


James Robson, Senior Economist

At the end of every year there is significant hiring for the holiday shopping season. For the most part this brings about a temporary surge in retail trade employment. This surge builds across the months of October, November and December. Figure 1 provides an 18 year history of Utah retail trade holiday hiring from 2000 through 2017 and a forecast for 2018.

Figure 1 illustrates there are usually more than 1,200 jobs added in October, with the largest number of hires occurring in November (usually well above 4,000) and in recent years around 1,000 added in December. Also of particular note, there was a distinctly higher pattern of hiring in the month of December, usually well above 2,000 jobs, in the first eight years of this series (2000 to 2007) but has not risen to such a level since the Great Recession.