Agencies update status of state, national economies
Utah's unemployment rate for July 2002 registered at 5.1 percent, continuing a yearlong trend of hovering in the low to mid 5 percent range and reflecting the persistent difficulty in sustaining employment in the current labor market.
"There has been a leveling off in the number of persons filing for unemployment insurance over the last several months. Also, we are seeing fewer reports of large layoff activity across the state," noted workforce services regional economist Austin Sargent.
Ending July 27, the four-week average of unemployment insurance initial claims filed across the state registered at 1,769. The number represents an increase of 5 percent when compared to last year's four-week average of 1,682.
The number of all intial unemployment benefit claims filed at locations across Utah during the week totaled 1,593. Weeks claimed numbered 18,936, increasing by 37 percent from the 13,828 reported last year.
Venture capital money to Utah companies fell sharply in second quarter 2002, down 37 percent from the same period a year ago and mirroring a national trend of shrinking deals.
Eight Utah companies received $26.6 million during the three-month period ending on June 30, according to the MoneyTree Survey.
The survey tracks venture activity and compiled in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoop-ers, Venture Economics and the National Venture Capital Association.
School districts throughout Utah have scrambled to fill teaching positions in the last several years. However, prospective educators are being turned away by the hundreds and some current classroom instructors are postponing retirement to retain jobs, according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
At the national level, the United States unemployment rate remained steady at 5.9 percent in July as companies, uncertain about the economic recovery and shaken by accounting scandals, added just 6,000 new positions at locations across the country.
The U.S. Labor Department reported that new hiring in the American services industry was tempered by job cuts in construction and manufacturing.
The number employment opportunities across the U.S. has been essentially unchanged during the last five months and the unemployment rate has remained within a narrow 5.8 percent to 6 percent range since April, according to federal and state agencies.
In an encouraging sign, long-term unemployment of 15 weeks or more edged down in July after rising continuously nationwide during the previous 13 months, continued the Utah workforce services department.
More Americans filed new claims for unemployment insurance last week, a sign of the difficulties facing companies and workers amid an uneven economic recovery.
For the work week ending July 27, new applications for jobless benefits rose by a seasonally adjusted 20,000 to 387,000, reported the U.S. Labor Department.
The increase pushed the number of unemployment benefits claims filed by displaced workers across the nation to the highest level since the beginning of July. The increase comes after claims fell sharply in the prior two weeks.
The U.S. economy lost momentum in second quarter 2002 as gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of only 1.1 percent.
The April-June quarter was in sharp contrast to a revised 5 percent growth rate turned in during the first three months of the year.
In addition, recently compiled figures indicate that last year's recession was worse than predicted by analysts, with the economy shrinking in three quarters of 2001.
U.S. consumer sentiment dropped in July as a merciless stock market sell-off dealt a blow to Americans' expectations for the future.
The University of Michigan's final consumer sentiment index fell in July to the lowest level since November 2001, registering at 88.1 from the 92.4 posted nationwide in June.
U.S. construction spending unexpectedly decreased in June, the second monthly decline, as work declined on housing, offices, schools and streets.
The 2.2 percent drop in the value of new construction followed a 2 percent nationwide decline in May that was steeper than previously estimated, explained the U.S. Commerce Department.
Manufacturing activity at locations accross the United States accelerated for a sixth straight month during July.
However, America's manufacturing sector witnessed a slower pace of economic expansion natiowide in July 2002 than the industry experienced during the preceding month.
The Institute for Supply Management, based in Tempe, Ariz., indicated that the index of business activity in the U.S. slipped to 50.5 percent in July from the 56.2 percent figure tallied for June, concluded the latest economic Trendlines report compiled and released by the Utah Department of Workforce Services.