Western Blue Chip Current Update

April 4, 2019

The states included in the Western Blue Chip Economic Forecast are Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

 

JOB GROWTH UPDATE AND OUTLOOK

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released revised benchmarked data for 2017 and 2018 state nonfarm employment on March 11, 2019.  The revised figures confirmed the continuing dominance of the Western states in the rate of growth of new jobs in the past couple of years.  Ranked by annual percent change in employment, the top five growth states were in the West in both 2017 and 2018. Overall the West accounted for eight of the top ten fastest growth positions in both years.

Non-Agricultural Job Growth in the Western States (Annual Percent Change)

2017 Job Growth 2018 Job Growth 2019 Forecast
Rank Percent Change Rank Percent Change Percent Change
Arizona 4 2.5% 4 2.8% 2.6%
California 9 2.2% 10 2.0% 1.8%
Colorado 7 2.3% 7 2.4% 2.1%
Idaho 2 3.0% 3 3.1% 3.0%
Montana 28 1.0% 22 1.1% 1.1%
Nevada 1 3.3% 1 3.4% 3.2%
New Mexico 39 0.5% 17 1.3% 1.4%
Oregon 6 2.3% 12 1.8% 2.0%
Texas 12 1.8% 9 2.3% 2.4%
Utah 3 3.0% 2 3.2% 3.1%
Washington 5 2.4% 5 2.6% 2.5%
Wyoming 49 -0.8% 38 0.7% 1.4%
United States* 1.6% 1.7% 1.3%

  Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics March 11, 2019

* United States forecast from Wells Fargo March 2019

Nevada ranked first in each year. Idaho and Utah swapped second and third place, while Arizona maintained a strong grip on fourth place, and Washington ranked fifth.  New Mexico advanced 22 places in the rankings between 2017 and 2018, moving from 39th to 17th. In both years, 9 of the 12 Western states exceeded the national rate of employment growth, with Nevada adding jobs at double the national rate in each year.

Many national economy-watchers are projecting continued positive but somewhat slower job growth for 2019.  Western forecasters see a similar pattern for Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Washington, where employment growth is forecast to be down by one or two tenths of a percentage point.  Slightly faster job growth is expected in New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Wyoming, while Montana is expected to remain the same.