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County, state experience climbing unemployment

By Sun Advocate

Carbon County’s unemployment rate continues to climb.
Joblessness in Carbon County registered at 7.7 percent in February, up from the 7.1 percent unemployment rate reported during January. By comparison, Carbon County posted a 7 percent jobless rate last December.
In neighboring Emery County, the unemployment rate increased to 10.6 percent in February from January’s 10.1 percent. Last December, Emery County experienced 9.8 percent joblessness.
The unemployment rate in the southeastern district remained virtually unchanged, registering at 9.2 percent in January and February. However, the figure represents a significant jump from the 7.7 percent jobless rate reported by the district during last December.
At the state level, Utah posted a 5.3 percent unemployment rate in February. Approximately 64,000 Utahns were unemployed last month, representing an 11.3 percent decrease from February 2002 when the statewide jobless rate was 6.1 percent.
“The economy is still operating in a stagnant mode. Unemployment has hovered around the 5.5 percent range for the past half year. We’re still waiting to see this economy spring back to life, but I really don’t expect to see that until summer at the earliest,” observed Mark Knold, Utah Department of Workforce Services senior economist.
Utah’s second primary indicator of labor market conditions, the year-over change in the number of non-farm wage and salaried jobs, dropped significantly.
February employment was down by 1 percent or 10,500 jobs statewide compared to last year.
“Don’t read too much into this employment decline. This drop is the product of last year’s Olympics. Between the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, the news media, security, parking lots, hotels and restaurants, there were close to 10,000 temporary workers put in place for the Olympics,” pointed out Raylene Ireland, workforce services director. “Of course, this February is going to be down compared to that.”
According to workforce services, the 2002 Winter Games distorted the employment picture and the status of Utah’s economy. The roughly 10,000 temporary jobs in place last February because of the Olympics have disappeared. So the state’s economy faced generating 10,000 new employment opportunities in February to break even.
In January, Utah’s employment count dropped by 5,000 positions and Olympics deepened the loss, bringing the total year-over statewide employment deficit to 10,500 jobs. Therefore, state analysts will be able to more accurately evaluate Utah’s economy by waiting until April when the Olympic effect has passed, indicated workforce services.
On the national scene, the unemployment rate in the United States posted little change in February, registering at 5.8 percent. The number of unemployed Americans totaled 8.5 million, with nearly 1.9 million or 22 percent filing for jobless benefits for 27 weeks or more.
Since November 2001, the U.S. unemployment rate has ranged from 5.6 percent to 6.0 percent.
The nationwide employment picture also remained primarily unchanged in February. Year-over employment dropped by 0.2 percent in the U.S.
One year ago, the national economic cycle hit bottom at a minus 1.3 percent, then crept upward to reach a minus 0.2 percent in November 2002. After November, the U.S. economy stagnated – an indication that the last three months have been a flat spot in the road to recovery, concluded the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

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