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Carbon County posts climbing jobless rate

By Sun Advocate

Carbon County experienced increasing unemployment in July. Local joblessness jumped to 6.4 percent from the 5.3 percent uenmployment rate reported in June 2002.
By comparison, Carbon County posted a 6.2 percent unemployment rate in July 2001.
Neighboring Emery County’s jobless rate climbed to 8.1 percent in July from June’s 7.3 percent rate. Emery County reported 10.9 percent unemployment rate in July 2001.
At the state level, Utah’s unemployment rate for July registered at 5.1 percent, an increase from June’s 4.7 percent.
Climbing jobless rates reflect the persistent difficulty in sustaining employment in the current labor market, indicated the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
“There has been a leveling off in the number of persons filing for unemployment insurance over the last several months,” pointed out DWS regional economist Austin Sargent. “Also, we are seeing fewer reports of large layoff activity across the state.”
“The Utah economy is probably nearing its turning point. However, it may take several more months before we see hiring activity improve. Utah’s economy can expect a few more bumps along the road to economic recovery,” explained Sargent.
Approximately 58,900 Utahns were unemployed in July 2002, representing a 22.9 percent increase from the 47,912 in July 2001 when the state’s jobless rate was 4.3 percent.
Utah’s second primary indicator of current labor market conditions – the change in the number of non-farm wage and salaried jobs – remained negative, but improved slightly from June.
The number of jobs statewide dropped 1.5 percent year-over for 15,900 fewer positions in July 2002, according to the work-force department’s preliminary measurements. June’s statewide figure was revised downward from a preliminary 1.5 percent to -1.6 percent.
Nationally, the unemployment rate for July 2002 remained unchanged for the second consecutive month at 5.9 percent.
The number of Americans unemployed at locations across the nation totaled 8.3 million. U.S. non-farm employment remains in negative territory.
In July, the nation’s year-over non-farm employment dropped 1.0 percent. But the rate of contraction shows signs of slowing, particularly when compared to the 1.3 percent job losses in February and March 2002.
In Utah, the economy has started showing signs of reaching the bottom. Overall employment is down 1.5 percent, but represents an improvement from June’s -1.6 percent.
Revisions may change the statewide figure slightly, but the initial look suggests the slump has reached bottom, explained the department of workforce services.
Utah’s economy will probably bounce along the bottom for several months, indicating that rapid turnaround is unlikely.
Construction constitutes one weak point, employing approximately 68,200 workers statewide. The sector’s labor force has 6,400 fewer workers than counted in July 2001.
Utah’s manufacturing division is the hardest hit industry with a year-over drop of 6,800 positions.
The manufacturing industry currently employs in the neighborhood of 120,000 Utahns, but the sector’s labor force is down from the peak of 135,000 registered in late 1997.
Manufacturing has suffered a three-year slump, not only in Utah but nationally as well.
The industry is probably at the low point of its slide, but manufacturing shows no prospects for a significant turnaround within the current year, predicted the department of workforce services.
The industry conglomeration of transportation/communications/utilities continued to slide into a deeper malaise in July.
Employment levels in the conglomerate division are down 4.3 percent year-over, while two months ago the sector was down only 3.5 percent at locations across the state.
The communications industry is one of the major factors in the sector’s weakness, along with fewer trucking job opportunities in Utah.
The trade industry is stuck in a rut, with several months of employment losses hovering around 5,300 workers, pointed out the state workforce department.
By employing approximately 246,200 workers, the trade sector represents Utah’s second largest employment division.
But the effects of an overall weak economy have put a damper on consumer spending and weakened the trade sector statewide, particularly with regard to the purchase of luxury or high-end goods.
Restaurant employment is also down slightly, suggesting consumers may be a bit more frugal in eating expenditures, added the state’s workforce services agency.
The government sector continues to help add life to Utah’s economy.
Employment levels in state, local and federal governments in Utah are up by around 3,100 positions.
State government employment remained flat in July, with slight gains posted in federal jobs.
Most of the employment gains reported in the public sector occurred in local governments at locations throughout the state.
Utah’s largest employment sector is services. The services sector employs approximately 318,400 Utahns.
The services sector shows year-over growth for July of 1.1 percent, according to the latest data compiled by the department of workforce services.
The 1.1 percent expansion rate represents an uptick in hiring activity in the services division when compared with the previous three months.
The situation is an encouraging sign and, in the event the sector continues to build upon the current employment upswing, services could provide the impetus to jumpstart the state’s economy, indicated the Utah workforce agency.
Employment in Utah’s computer-related services remained down in July 2002.
However, vigorous hiring in personal services, amusement/recreation and management helped counter the ongoing limited job opportunities in Utah’s computer-related sector, concluded the workforce department.

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