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Jobless rate drops in Carbon County

By Sun Advocate

Data compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Service indicate declining unemployment in Carbon County.
Carbon County’s jobless rate registered at 6.9 percent in August, dropping from July’s 7.5 percent measurement. Last year, Carbon County reported a 6.5 percent August unemployment rate.
In Emery County, the jobless rate climbed from 9.2 percent in July to 9.9 percent in August. Emery’s unemployment level registered at 9.5 percent for August 2002.
At the state level, Utah’s unemployment rate measured at 5.1 percent in August, reflecting a slight downturn from July’s 5.2 percent measurement.
Approximately 62,000 Utahns were unemployed in August 2003. Last year, 70,700 Utahns were unemployed, with a statewide 6 percent jobless.
“There is currently very little overall change in the Utah labor market,” noted Mark Knold, workforce services senior economist. “We can have very small movements up or down in the unemployment rate, just as we’re seeing now, but they do not necessarily signal a change in the labor market.”
“With the beginning signs of economic improvement nationally, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the unemployment rate rise temporarily, as idled workers begin to re-enter the labor market looking for work,” added the DWS senior economist. “But as for now, the rate has been basically unchanged throughout the entire year.”
Utah’s second primary indicator of current labor market conditions, the year-over change in the number of non-farm wage and salaried jobs available statewide, was down 0.3 percent.
The state’s employment count remained unchanged, registering at 1,062,900 in August and July.
“When the economy does begin to improve and pick up steam, the employment arena will be one of the last areas to respond in that direction,” noted Raylene Ireland, DWS director. “For this reason, economists identify employment growth as a lagging indicator.”
“The fact that we are announcing that Utah’s employment picture is unchanged does not automatically mean the economy isn’t ready to grow,” pointed out the department of workforce services director. “Some of the national indicators are pointing in the direction of growth, but they have just started to emerge, and it’s too early to tell if they will develop into positive momentum.”
Nationally, the unemployment rate dipped slightly to 6.1 percent in August, down from 6.2 percent in July, confirmed the department of workforce services.
The number of employed Americans – registering at 137.6 million displaced workers nationwide – remained relatively unchanged from July to August.
The employment/population ratio at 62.1 percent and the U.S. labor force participation rate at 66.2 percent were constant during the two-month period.
In August, 1.9 million or 21.8 percent of all unemployed Americans had been jobless for 27 weeks or longer. The nationwide employment count has been negative since July 2001.
In August 2003, there were 129.5 million jobs available to American workers at locations across the U.S.
In the last several months, some positive news has come from the nation’s economic indicators, pointed out the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
The nationwide manufacturing slide appears to have stopped, initial unemployment claims are moderating, the service sector is building confidence and housing activity remains strong.
Gross domestic product growth is rising and worker productivity is high in U.S. industries.
High productivity can be a mixed blessing – harmful in the short run, but good in the long run, explained the department of workforce services.
With productivity high, an economy can expand in monetary terms without adding jobs. But economic expansion without an increase in employment opportunities is ultimately unsustainable growth.
Increased defense spending accounted for a significant portion of the second quarter growth in the nation’s gross domestic product. The results are welcome, but tend to be short-lived, noted the department of workforce services.
Growth in the nation’s business sectors, constituting the bulk of the United States overall economy, plays a crucial role in sustaining prolonged expansion.
In Utah, the health and education sector has represented the consistent bright spot in the statewide economic picture.
Health and education have managed to grow throughout the economic downturn in Utah and the sector is large enough to have a positive impact on the state’s overall picture.
The health and education fields employ approximately 114,000 Utahns, slightly more than 10 percent of the state’s total workforce. The sector has maintained growth rates of 2 percent or higher for the last three years.
Government joined health and education in posting employment expansion during the designated three-year period. The public sector is comprised of three levels – federal, state and local.
Federal and local governments in Utah have witnessed consistent growth, primarily through defense and education respectively. State government employment has stalled, pressured by ongoing budget constraints.
Government represents 17 percent of Utah’s economy and has helped the state weather troubled economic times, noted the department of workforce services.
The financial sector continues to experience growth statewide. The sector employs approximately 64,000 workers, representing only 6 percent of Utah’s total labor force.
Three sectors are dragging on Utah’s economy, manufacturing; professional-business services and leisure-hospitality. All three sectors are operating on at least two-year employment declines.
Activity in Utah’s construction industries remained unchanged from last year in August. The sector had been sliding for three years, but recently stabilized.
But construction may not remain stable, with the probability high that additional declines will eventually develop in the sector, concluded the Utah Department of workforce services.

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