BY TOM BUSSELBERG
FARMINGTON — Home sales are starting to come back, according to Marlin Eldred, of the Davis County Department of Community & Economic Development.
The sales are not to blockbuster 2007 levels, but are on the upswing, she said.
One sign of that is an increase in the construction of multi-family housing around the nation, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau, and Davis is right in step with the trend. There has been an increase in the number of apartment projects under construction across the county, Eldred said.
“We have a lot of projects we are working on within the county,” in partnership with cities, Eldred said. That includes the Syracuse/Ninigret Industrial Park, Clearfield’s transit-oriented development, a couple of Centerville projects, and North Salt Lake’s Redwood Road/Center Street community development area project.
“All in all, I feel pretty positive about the economy in Davis County,” Eldred said. “It could be better, but in comparison to where we were two or three years ago, we’re in a lot better position for the future.”
Despite the improvements, some areas of the economy continue to struggle.
Federal government employment shrank 3.2 percent during this year’s first quarter in the county, said Tyson Smith, a regional economist with the Department of Workforce Services.
The impact of sequestration could be $86 million in lost wages, he said. It could also mean the loss of job training for 16,430 workers across the state, and compounded market uncertainty.
“Uncertainty depresses business investment and consumer spending, which negatively impacts economic growth,” Smith said. However, it is anticipated that sequestration will become a short-term issue.
Even so, the county’s May joblessness number was 4.6 percent, slightly better than the state average of 4.7 percent and far better than the national rate of 7.6 percent.
A county economic snapshot released by the workforce services department on Monday showed employment growth at 2.2 percent between March of 2012 and March of 2013. That was lower than the state’s 3.4 percent rate, but higher than the national growth rate of 1.5 percent.
Professional and business services showed the biggest gain, year-over-year, at nearly 1,000 new jobs, followed by education, health and social services at 626, and manufacturing, at 346 jobs.
Government lost 397 positions, information lost 103, and trade, transportation and utilities fell by 59 slots.
A big job stimulus came within the past two months when multi-national General Dynamics announced the creation of 800 jobs, which will occupy a shuttered site in Layton.
The positions will include a customer service center and call center and will fulfill a federal contract, said Kent Andersen, Layton City Economic Development Specialist.
In other economic trends, construction values jumped by 51.3 percent between January and April of this year, compared to a year earlier. But the number of dwelling unit permits through April of this year, at 632, was a slight drop from the same period last year, Smith said.
Meanwhile, gross taxable sales were up by 6.7 percent in the first quarter of 2013 compared the same period in 2012.
“We are turning more into a major industry, professional office, retail and housing leader,” Eldred said.
“We are a force they’re having to reckon with,” he said.