June 27, 2014

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Economic Growth Slowing in the Mountain West

Press Release

June 27, 2014

The Mountain Monitor, a quarterly report produced by Brookings Mountain West, found that the rate of economic recovery in the major metropolitan areas of the Mountain West is no longer impervious to national trends.

The rate of economic recovery broadly slowed across the region from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014, just as it did nationally. However, the report notes that Ogden was one of four metro areas that did see small output gains in the first quarter.

Furthermore, the region’s robust housing recovery slowed dramatically, even reversing course in Ogden and Provo.

Mountain metro areas performed better than the national economy on employment growth, however, with eight of the region’s 10 major metro areas posting quarterly growth rates above the national average. As a whole in the region, employment increased by 0.6 percent over the quarter, compared to 0.2 percent nationwide.

Output stagnated across the region, and the rate of increase in house prices fell to 1.2 percent—the slowest rate since the housing recovery took hold.

In Ogden, employment levels increased by a modest 0.2 percent in the first quarter of the year, reflecting a slight slowdown overthe previous quarter. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1 percent—the third lowest in the region behind Provo and Salt Lake City and well below the national average of 6.5 percent. Output increased by 0.1 percent, which was sufficient to make Ogden one of the top performers nationally on this metric. Home prices, meanwhile, fell by 0.5 percent in the first three months of the year after having increased steadily in quarters prior.

Provo posted the second-fastest rate of job growth in the region in the fourth quarter as employment expanded by 0.9 percent, behind only Las Vegas. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.9 percent, the lowest among all large metro areas in the country. The rate of output growth swung sharply negative, however, as metro area GDP contracted by 0.4 percent—compared to the more modest 0.1 percent fall nationally. House price growth turned negative as well. Home prices fell by 0.8 percent in Provo in the first quarter, more than any other metro area in the region.

In Salt Lake City, the rate of employment growth revived to 0.5 percent in the first quarter of 2014 after having slackened at the end of the year. The unemployment rate ticked up slightly, however, to a still-low 4.0 percent. Output contracted by 0.2 percent as the national slowdown made its effects felt. Finally, the rate of house price growth fell to the national large metro average of 0.2 percent after several quarters of solid increases. For more information, visit http://www.brookings.edu/research/interactives/metromonitor#/M10420


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