Data Sense: Data paints a positive picture for Moffat County

The November 2013 edition of Yampa Valley Data Partners’ monthly FastFacts report paints a positive picture of the Moffat County economy across several different dimensions. In aggregate, the latest indicators point to an improving economic landscape and provide the basis for a positive outlook heading into 2014.

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Brandon Owens

Labor market data provided by the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment shows unemployment in Moffat County declined to 5.5 percent in September. As of September, there were an estimated 767 unemployed workers in the county, compared to 13,250 employed workers. This represents a sharp improvement from the same numbers in September 2012, when 937 workers were unemployed and the unemployment rate was 6.8 percent. The 12-month average county unemployment rate has been on decline throughout 2013.

Monthly sales figures in the county also showed marked improvement in 2013 relative to 2012. In August 2013 total retail sales reached $33.76 million. This represented a 0.7 percent increase over August 2012. Year-to-date sales through August were $248.45 million. This is within striking distance of last year’s level of $250 million and well above the 2010 level of $200 million.

Positive news was also reported in the Moffat County real estate market. As of October 2013, the average single-family home listing price in Moffat was $185,000. The average listing price in Moffat has been on the rise since March 2013 when it dropped to $115,000. The number of available homes for sale has steadily declined throughout the year, indicating a gradual tightening of inventory. The foreclosure rate dropped to 1 in 1408 after reaching 1 in 772 over the summer.

Both coal and oil production levels were up in August 2013 relative to August 2012. Moffat County coal production in August was 426,000 tons. This was 18 percent of Colorado state production during the month of August, and represented a 31 percent increase in Moffat County coal production compared to August 2012. Moffat County oil production in August was also up relative to the same month last year. The August production level of 33,000 barrels represented a 2.2 percent increase compared to August 2012. Year-to-date oil production in Moffat County as of August was 22.8 percent higher than 2012.

There is no denying that a number of challenges face Moffat County as we approach the end of the year. That said, the best available data indicates that the county is in recovery mode in the wake of the recession, with a number of indicators pointing to upward trends worthy of an extra helping of holiday cheer.

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