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Front Page » June 19, 2007 » Local News » Workforce services department evaluates employment recession
Published 3,029 days ago

Workforce services department evaluates employment recession

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Utah experienced a rare employment recession from 2001 through 2003. Approximately 15,000 jobs disappeared and the state failed to match the January 2001 employment peak until January 2004.

The three-year period represented the most prolonged employment downturn recorded statewide in the post-World War II era.

"Sometimes it is enlightening to pause and take a look back at things that have happened, especially when new data sources like the local employment dynamics program from the U.S. Census Bureau shed additional light," explained Utah Department of Workforce Services economist Mark Knold.

Workforce services evaluated the factors contributing to the three-year recession and the statewide impact of the economic downturn.

As part of the process, the department applied an all-industry average monthly wage segmentation process. Companies were placed in high or low pay categories based on the average monthly wage in the industries, continued the DWS economist. Employment levels were evaluated for all industries between 2000 and 2005.

The analysis focused on job losses reported between the beginning of 2001 and the end of 2003 - the prime years of employment decline in Utah.

The results of the evaluation indicated that the noticeable employment declines were found pre-dominantly on the high-wage side of the ledger, pointed out the DWS economist.

A breakdown into gender showed that primarily male employees were affected in the high-wage industries.

"What industries were involved in this downturn and which workers were impacted? In a nutshell, the answer is construction, manufacturing and information technology and the workers affected were predominantly males in high-wage jobs. Caveats are that not all construction, manufacturing and information technology areas had employment declines. But important pieces did and they were enough to single out those industries as the areas with significant employment decline," noted Knold.

Male workers dominate the high-wage employment picture in Utah by a 60-40 margin, according to the department of workforce services economist.

Profiling male workers only, a breakout into high-wage and low-wage industries showed employment levels split nearly 50-50.

But when the profile was repeated for females only, the breakout registered at approximately 40-60. The data indicated that 60 of Utah's female employees work in low-wage industries, while 40 percent occupy high-wage positions.

"This is not an unusual difference as this pattern also holds in a national profile," pointed out the department of workforce services economist. "Also in Utah, females work a significant percentage of part-time employment, much more so than males, and that tends to push them onto the low-wage side of the ledger."

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