Tuesday, July 7, 2020


Moab, UT

93.2 F

    Moab visitation has slowed in recent years

    Featured Stories

    At 99, Moab man is knighted by France

    “The French people will never forget his courage and devotion to the great cause of freedom,”

    Leaving Guatemala, Part 4: ‘A year in the land of eternal spring’

    Though I planned to return someday, whether as a Peace Corps volunteer or not, this experience proved that even the best-laid plans go awry.

    Leaving Guatemala, Part 3: Sudden departure came with painful goodbyes

    Men donned wooden masks and numerous layers of sweatshirts and ponchos then proceeded to hit each other with whips as they danced around the town square.

    Leaving Guatemala Part 2: There wasn’t enough time to say goodbye

    To say I woke up on the Monday morning of the evacuation...

    Ignoring own standards and experts, Utah commission pushes reopening

    The COVID-19 model from the CDC predicts an increase in deaths from the coronavirus from Utah in the coming weeks, and key indicators predict more hospitalizations are to come.
    Carter Pape
    Carter Papehttp://moabtimes.awebstudio.com/author/carter-pape/
    Reporter Carter Pape covers news out of the Grand County Council Chambers, including housing, tourism, crime, and more.

    Other key indicators highlight need for economic diversification

    Zacharia Levine presents his annual “State of the Local Economy” presentation during the 2020 Canyonlands Business Summit on Feb. 9. Photo by Carter Pape

    Economic data recently compiled by Grand County officials for an update to Moab’s business leaders suggests that the city’s tourism economy has slowed in recent years following more than a decade of unfettered growth and that wage growth has, as it has for years, not kept pace with increasing housing costs.

    Zacharia Levine, the director of Grand County’s Department of Community and Economic Development, presented the update at the 2020 Canyonlands Business Summit on Feb. 9. Among the top takeaways from the presentation: The affordability gap in Moab — the difference between the cost of a typical Moab home and the price of a home the typical Moab wage earner can afford — has increased to $164,000. Rental housing, in turn, is also drastically more expensive than what Moabites can afford.

    Although the trends in Grand County related to housing and wage growth were alarming for low-wage earners, the picture in San Juan County was even worse: Since 2013, workers have paid higher prices each year for housing and, overall, suffered decreases to their monthly wage.

    Housing costs continue to outstrip wages

    The Times-Independent reported last year on the wide gap in housing affordability in Grand County — the worst such gap in the State of Utah — and trends since that report was published have indicated no substantial change, and they might have worsened, to this underlying reality.

    In San Juan County, although the gap in housing affordability is less, the trends are worse. While the sales price of homes in the area has increased almost 70% since 2013, wages have decreased roughly 5%. This compares with a roughly 45% increase in home sale prices in Grand County during that time and wage growth of 15%, according to data compiled by Levine.

    Grand’s population shrank last year

    The data Levine presented explored demographic changes in Grand and San Juan counties, as well. Citing research from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah, Levine presented data that suggested Grand County’s total population dropped in 2019 for the first time in over 10 years. Data scheduled for release in March from the U.S. Census Bureau may provide a clearer picture on the figures and what they mean.

    The possible contraction in Grand County’s permanent population is an outlier in its modern history, which has been one of consistent, predictable growth. San Juan County’s permanent population continued growing at a similar pace to that of recent years.

    The possible impacts of a shrinking population in Grand County are complex, but whether the trend continues short- or medium-term remains to be seen.

    Efforts toward economic diversification

    As for trends that indicate a strengthening of the Grand County economy, most had to do with diversification: That is, growth in sectors other than lodging and accommodation.

    Although, unsurprisingly, accommodation and food services saw the largest number of new employees (269) between 2015 and 2018, Moab’s manufacturing sector had the greatest relative increase, more than doubling in size over those three years with 60 jobs added in the sector.

    Transportation and warehousing also saw substantial growth in employment, increasing at 72% over three years. Real estate sale and leasing, wholesale trade, and health care and social assistance all saw more than 20% employment increases, and many of them also saw substantial wage growth.

    Growth in these sectors suggests increasing resiliency in the local economy, including against fears of an impending recession that have seized many Americans in recent months. Among the sectors hit hardest by recession: tourism and lodging. With growth in other sectors, local workers stand a greater chance of making it through any declines in Moab tourism.

    According to Levine’s analysis, Moab still has a long way to go before it is as diversified as other Utah counties — Salt Lake, Weber and Washington being the top examples — but the city and county have taken some steps they hope will set up the local economy for success and durability.

    Share this!

    - Advertisement -

    Latest News

    GOP’s Cox, Reyes move on to General Election

    If the figures hold, Cox will face off against University of Utah law professor Christopher Peterson, a Democrat, and Libertarian Daniel Cottam, a surgeon, in November’s general election.

    Man pleads guilty to double manslaughter

    He faces up to 15 years apiece for the deaths of Vilsar Camey, 45, and Camey’s 10-year-old son, Israel on Feb. 9.

    Eklecticafe was cramped but quaint. Then the virus hit

    “It’s so sad to say that, even though there’s a relief for me, but the COVID thing… I just couldn’t sustainably reopen."

    500K facemasks headed to Utah students, teachers

    The state procured the masks from H.M. Cole and Totopazi and will be distributed to school districts in the “greatest need."

    After three years and a tripled budget, Seekhaven has new director

    My main goal is to stabilize our current programming and fortify our working relationships with the first responders in our community.