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Carbon County experiences slightly climbing jobless rate

By Sun Advocate

Unemployment in Carbon County inched up to 7.1 percent in January from the 7 percent level reported in December.
By comparison, Carbon County’s unemployment rate registered at 5.3 percent in January 2002.
Joblessness in neighboring Emery County registered at 10.1 percent in January, increasing from 9.8 percent in December.
Emery County posted a 10.9 percent unemployment rate in January 2002.
At the state level, Utah’s economy showed a slight improvement compared to December. The statewide jobless rate remained unchanged at 5.6 percent and the employment picture stayed the same., indicated the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
Approximately 63,900 Utahns were unemployed in January 2003, a 7.7 percent decrease compared to last year.
“We have hit a period in the last few months where the economy is operating just above an idling speed. Employers are still hiring and still laying off. The net effect is very close to a canceling out. Anxiety about an Iraq war seems to have the economy sitting still and waiting,” observed Mark Knold, DWS senior economist.
Utah’s second primary indicator of current labor market conditions, the year-over change in the number of non-farm wage and salaried jobs, also remained unchanged. January employment is down by 0.5 percent or 5,200 positions statewide compared to 2002 data.
“On paper, the employment percentage shows no change between December and January. But in reality, it is a slight improvement,” pointed out Raylene Ireland, workforce services executive director.
The January numbers are being compared against the employment buildup preceding last year’s Winter Olympics.
Therefore, no change actually creates a positive employment situation, explained DWS officials.
Nationally, the jobless rate in the United States fell to 5.7 percent in January and 8.3 million Americans were unemployed. U.S. non-farm employment registered at 137.5 million positions. The situation brings the growth rate as close to zero as possible, noted the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
January represented the third month in a row that employment growth hovered slightly below zero and the national economy appears poised to cross the threshold.
In Utah, the state’s large service producing sector posted virtually no growth in January.
And although employment is down 2.5 percent, the goods producing portion of the Utah economy is trending upward, explained DWS representatives.
But additional time will be required before Utah’s goods producing sector manages to swing to the positive side of the employment ledger, added the workforce services officials.
Service producing industries account for 83 percent of the Utah economy and goods producing 17 percent.
Employment in the state’s education and health services has increased by 3,700 positions. The industry has been the lone bright spot throughout the current statewide economic downturn.
Credited with pulling the weight in the sector, the health care industry is experiencing employment shortages in critical skills areas like nursing and technicians.
Utah’s manufacturing sector is suffering a four-year employment slump and continues showing year-over job losses – down 1,900 workers from January to January.
However, the declines are leveling off because the industry has been moving sideways for a long enough period of time to effectively “smooth out” the year-over comparison, pointed out workforce services officials.
But there is no significant turnaround visible on the immediate horizon.
Employment in Utah’s government expanded by 3,700 positions.
Approximately 900 of the jobs are new federal security agents at the Salt Lake airport, representing an employment movement from the private to the public sector that had no effect on the overall economy.
Jobs were added on the local level in the education system, with state government employment showing little change.
Technology businesses across the state have slumped during the last two years and employment in the sector has dropped by 1,500 positions since last January.
Job losses in the state’s high-tech industry appear to have stabilized, but the sector’s return to a hiring trend has not developed to date.
The Utah industry with the largest year-over employment decline is leisure and hospitality, down by 2,700 positions.
One year ago, the Salt Lake Organizing Committee employed 3,000 workers while hotels and restaurants were gearing up for the anticipated tourist onslaught accompanying the Olympics.
The increasing demand for workers to fill the positions created to organize the worldwide event and accommodate the visitors as well as the athletes participatingin the Winter Games inflated the state’s traditional employment picture.
By April, the effect of the 2002 Winter Games on Utah’s economy will have passed, allowing the actual pulse of the state’s leisure and hospitality industry to resurface, indicated the department of workforce services officials.
The construction industry in Utah continued to report year-over job losses statewide in January. Employment opportunities in the construction sector were down by 2,600 positions statewide in January.
But the situation is probably as good as can be expected considering the construction buildup of the past few years, coupled with the current condition of the Utah economy, pointed out DWS officials.
Professional and business services dropped 1,500 positions at locations throughout Utah.
The professional and business services segment of the state’s economy has continued to slide since the middle of 2001. But signs of stability are beginning to surface in the sector.
Utah’s trade, transportation and utilities industry lost 2,500 employment positions from January to January.
Transferring restaurants into the leisure and hospitality category accounted for a significant chunk of the employment in the industry, noted DWS representatives.
The trade and transportation components are where the job losses occurred, with food stores, trucking and warehousing representing the major culprits.
Natural resources lost 100 jobs, while financial activities gained 100 employment positions, concluded the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

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