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Agency analyzes Carbon economy

By Sun Advocate

Carbon County experienced relatively strong employment expansion during 2002.
The local coal mining industry managed to rebound from Willow Creek’s closure and provided the county with an economic shot in the arm during the latter half of 2002, pointed out the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
Growth in trade and health services also helped sustain jobs for residents in the area.
However, the recently announced intent to idle underground coal production operations at Skyline mine will negatively affect the employment picture in Carbon County.
During the last two quarters of 2002, Carbon County’s year-over non-farm employment continued to climb, though the rate of increase slowed.
Third quarter eked out a 0.9 percent employment expansion rate, while local job opportunities increased 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter.
The primary forces contributing to the employment gains included in the coal mining, trade and health care sectors.
After posting strong job expansion during first and second quarter 2002, goods production employment faltered during the final six months of the year.
Mining recorded an increase of more than 150 positions last year. However, the gains were offset by significant construction job losses and a weak manufacturing sector.
Construction jobs dropped as local pipeline projects were completed. Manufacturing jobs for petroleum and coal products also slid.
Fueled by the recovering coal mining sector, Carbon County’s economy continued to expand during the last six months of 2002. Trade and health related services also boosted the local area’ economic fortunes.
The 2003 economic outlook forecasts slower economic growth in Carbon County, indicated the latest newsletter drafted by the department of workforce services.
Local service producing industries increased employment opportunities in third and fourth quarter 2002, led by job growth in trade and health care.
The industries in question include trade, transportation, information, recreation, lodging and food services.
Merchandise stores added approximately 90 employment opportunities in Carbon County. In addition, the number of jobs increased in the local health care sector.
The sector includes local medical clinics, nursing care facilities and social assistance centers.
Financial activity along with recreation and leisure also posted moderate growth in Carbon County last year.
Service producing industries witnessing job losses included the local transportation, professional business and the government sector, noted the department of workforce services.
Cuts in education related positions accounted for the decline in local government employment.
Measured by permit authorizations, construction activity in Carbon County fell during the last half of 2002, explained the department of workforce services.
The total value of local permit authorized construction dropped 42 percent as a result of the downturn in non-residential building.
Housing starts improved and residential property valuations jumped 69 percent at locations across the county. However, local non-residential values tumbled 75 percent.
The department of workforce services attributed the drop primarily to the rippling effect created by the permit issued for a local retail store expansion project in 2001. Last year, the county approved no major projects of a similar magnitude. The valuation of renovation work nearly tripled in the local area compared to the last half of 2001.
Gross taxable sales slipped 3.4 percent in Carbon County during the final six months of 2002. Retail sales remained strong in third quarter, but weakened in fourth quarter.
Merchandise stores and automobile sales sustained local retail trade sales, added the department of workforce services
Businesses losing ground at the conclusion of last year included mining, construction, manufacturing, transportation and services.
The persistent effects stemming from the current recession will slow economic activity in Carbon County throughout 2003. Until the county manages to resolve the fundamental problem of overcapacity in the local labor market, the trend will continue, concluded the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

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