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County experiences declining job growth, rising unemployment rate

By Sun Advocate

Carbon County concluded March with negative employment growth.
In addition, the county’s second primary indicator of labor market conditions – the unemployment rate – registered at 4.4 percent last month, indicated the latest data compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
The local jobless rate climbed nearly a percentage point between February and March 2008.
Last month, 445 local residents were jobless, while Carbon County’s labor force totaled 10,082 employees.
At the state level, the department of workforce services estimated Utah’s non-farm wage and salaried job growth for March at 2.1 percent.
The projected employment expansion rate continues the recent downward trend in employment growth.
Approximately 26,200 jobs have been created in the Utah economy during the last year, raising total wage and salary employment statewide to 1,264,800, indicated the department of workforce services.
Utah’s second primary indicator of labor market conditions – the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, measured 3.3 percent in March, up from February’s 3 percent.
Approximately 46,200 Utahns were considered unemployed last month compared to 33,000 in March 2007.
At the national level, the United States’ unemployment rate moved up to 5.1 percent in March as employment declines are accelerating.
“The national employment picture remains weak and weakening, probably sitting in the middle of a recession,” noted Mark Knold, DWS economist. “Utah’s economy is being pulled down by this and the first and most noted industry feeling its negative effects is construction. The nation’s credit crunch has so negatively influenced the Utah housing market that new housing approvals over the past six months are below half of what normally is approved.”
“A strong rebound isn’t anticipated in the immediate future so Utah might easily shed 10,000 construction jobs over the next two years. But considering the construction the past four years and that all booms have an end, this decline really isn’t unexpected. I’m actually encouraged by how well the remainder of the Utah economy is holding up and performing. High paying professional jobs are still growing and in demand, health care is its usual stellar performer and, not withstanding the recent La -Z-Boy closure announcement, manufacturing employment statewide is bucking the national trend by growing,” explained Knold.
“Slowing the Utah economy after three years of stellar growth may not be as much of a negative as first emotions might suggest. There are dangers to overheating an economy as excesses can develop, resulting in more pain later when correcting those excesses,” explained the department of workforce services representative.
Since March 2007, the U.S. economy added 482,000 employment positions for a nationwide growth rate of 0.4 percent.
The trend, however, continued to point downward, according to the department of workforce services.
The creation of approximately 26,200 jobs in Utah represented about 5.4 percent of all the positions added in the U.S. in the last 12 months.
Utah comprises less than 1 percent of all United States jobs.
The growth rates of all Utah industries have softened, with the exception of health care and government, pointed out the department of workforce services.
The two sectors remain stable, with health care expanding around 4 percent and government growing in the low 1 percent range.
The overall slowing in Utah’s industrial sectors is subtle, except for construction and financial services.
The two exceptions have shown a recent accelerating downturn as a direct result of the national credit crisis, pointed out the department of workforce services.
To date, there is not much evidence that these industries’ problems are having a spillover effect on the remainder of Utah’s industries.
“Only now are we starting to get evidence of it having spilled over nationally into other industries so a Utah spillover may be yet to come,” noted the department of workforce services economist. “But Utah’s industries are currently in a strong position, or starting point, from which to weather this storm if it should arise.”
Utah’s trade/transportation/utilities industrial conglomeration added the majority of employment opportunities in the last 12 months at 6,700 positions statewide. Retail trade accounted for the majority of the growth. Continued population expansion and consumer confidence levels are the variables that will dictate the trade industry’s future performance, indicated Knold.
Several long-term factors continue to favorably influence Utah’s health care in March.
The factors point to the industry maintaining steady and consistent employment expansion in the future, concluded the department of workforce services.

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