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Carbon’s jobless rate drops

By Sun Advocate

The unemployment rate in Carbon County dropped one full percentage point between December 2001 and January 2002.
The latest data compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Services indicate that joblessness in Carbon County registered at 6.8 percent for December 2001.
The local economic picture improved during January 2002, when Carbon County reported a lower, 5.8 percent unemployment rate.
In neighboring Emery County, the jobless rate dipped slightly, from 9.9 percent in December to 9.6 percent in January.
The southeastern district also witnessed declining unemployment for the one-month period. The region posted a 7.4 percent jobless rate in January, compared to 7.7 percent in December.
The southeastern district encompasses Carbon, Emery, Grand and San Juan counties.
At the state level, the unemployment rate remained unchanged from December 2001 to January 2002. Utah’s current 5.3 percent jobless rate represents the highest level reported statewide since 1992.
Total employment in the mining industry has fallen by 200 jobs from the January 2001 level.
Other mining and quarrying – primarily oil and gas extraction – expanded by 200 positions. But metal mining has lost 300 jobs and coal mining decreased by 100 employment opportunities.
The Utah mining division’s current 7,500 employment total is near its all-time low and only a fraction of the 20,300 job peak achieved by the sector in 1981.
“Layoffs are again a major factor in the high unemployment rate. A reflection of this is that the number of unemployment insurance claimants is 60 percent higher for mid-January 2002 compared to one year earlier,” noted Ken Jensen, senior economist for the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
Last month, approximately 60,000 Utahns were unemployed, a 50 percent leap from 40,200 in January 2001, when the state’s jobless rate was 3.6 percent.
Utah’s second primary indicator of labor market conditions, the year-over rate of change in the number of non-farm wage and salaried jobs, plummeted last year.
January 2002’s 1.5 percent job loss contrasts significantly with January 2001’s 2.4 percent gain.
The last time Utah experienced a year-over employment loss was in 1982. Since January 2001, the state has suffered a net decrease of 15,700 non-farm job opportunities.
By comparison, Utah’s historical average growth rate of 3.5 percent would have produced 38,000 new employment opportunities.
For the United States, the January 2002 unemployment rate, at 5.6 percent, is down two-tenths of a point from December’s level.
However, the U.S. non-farm jobs total dropped 0.9 points year-over. January is the fourth consecutive month to show a year-over loss in jobs nationwide.
The last time the U.S. lost employment opportunities year-over was in 1992. By comparison, the nationwide job expansion registered at 2.7 percent 20 months ago.
Throughout the majority of 2001, construction constituted a bright spot in Utah’s dimming economy. Employment in the industry remained surprisingly resilient last year, actually exceed ing 2000 levels from August through November.
However, the total January 2002 employment number represents about 1,000 fewer construction jobs than existed in January 2001, a loss of 1.5 percent.
During 2000 and most of 1999, employment in Utah’s services division expanded more rapidly than any other division. Through the designated period, business services led the sector’s job producing activities.
But the statewide economic slowdown hit the area hard and, starting in February 2001, the year-over job growth in Utah’s services division slowed sharply.
The January 2002 estimates show the number of employment opportunities in Utah’s business services dropping by 8,500 positions or approximately 9 percent. The majority of the remaining services categories also slowed and Utah’s largest industrial division lost 4,100 net jobs, a 1.3 percent decrease.
The finance/insurance/real estate industry group is Utah’s only private or non-government division to gain employment year-over. The sector’s 2.4 percent job growth reflects 1,400 new positions.
Credit institutions were primarily responsible for the gain, points out the department of workforce services.
The recession for Utah’s manufacturing division is deepening. Recent layoffs in the steel industry added to the year-over losses from other manufacturing pursuits. The situation has resulted in 8,500 fewer employment positions for a 6.5 percent decrease.
Utah’s performance is similar to the U.S. manufacturing division’s loss of 7.2 percent of related jobs nationwide from January to January.
The consolidated wholesale plus retail trade division constitutes Utah’s second largest employment division with nearly one-fourth of the jobs statewide. However, trade dropped 6,000 net employment opportunities in the last 12 months, a decline of 2.4 percent.
Meager gains occurred with auto dealers/gas stations and eating/drinking places while all other trade industries lost jobs.
Employment cutbacks in transportation, communications and the electric, gas and sanitary services industries have cumulated to a 2,500 job, 4.1 percent deficit during the last 12 months.
Government employers in Utah have 5,200 more staff members than a year ago, for an increase of 2.8 percent.
The U.S. government’s 6 percent or 1,900 job expansion is due to equivalent increases in defense installations and federal agencies operating within Utah, indicated the department of workforce services.
State and local government aggregations grew by 2.5 percent and 1.9 percent, adding 1,400 and 1,900 jobs respectively. Education related positions accounted for more than one-half of the increase in state government.
Conversely, local governments in Utah reported minimal education employment increases.

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