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Front Page » November 25, 2008 » Carbon County News » Carbon's economy generates expanding employment levels
Published 2,469 days ago

Carbon's economy generates expanding employment levels

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Carbon County recorded a slightly expanding employment level in October despite the slowing state and national economies.

The latest data compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Services indicated that Carbon's labor force expanded by 0.7 percent during the one-year period from October 2007 to October 2008.

Last month, 9,288 residents were employed in the Carbon County area compared to the 9,222 active participants in the local labor force reported in 2007.

At the state level, the department of workforce services estimated that Utah's non-farm wage and salaried job count for October 2008 contracted by 0.2 percent compared to last year.

Approximately 2,200 jobs have been removed from the Utah economy during the last 12 months, lowering total wage and salary employment to 1,262,342 statewide.

Utah's second primary indicator of labor market conditions - the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate - registered at 3.5 percent. Last October, the state's rate was 2.8 percent.

Approximately 48,700 Utahns were considered unemployed in October compared against the 38,600 jobless Utahns reported during the same month last year.

At the national level, the United States unemployment rate climbed noticeably to 6.5 percent.

"It is time for round two in the economic downturn that's affecting Utah. Round one was largely the housing market, or construction phase. Utah's economy weakened, but it was very much concentrated upon the construction industry ? in particular, residential construction. Round two is the phase where now industries other than construction are starting to slump and will drive Utah's employment count into contraction. These include manufacturing, financial activities, information, professional and business services and eventually the trade sector," pointed out DWS economist Mark Knold.

Of the five industry sectors dropping jobs in Utah, construction remains the most influential, with year-to-date employment losses of 13,400 positions.

"Construction is in no position to offer a rebound as non-residential construction job losses are expected to begin soon, further adding to that industry's woes. In light of recent national events, the Utah economic outlook for 2009 has turned quite bearish. An employment contraction of 1.5 percent or 19,000 fewer jobs is now expected. If proven true, this will be Utah's sharpest employment downturn since 1954."

The state'smanufacturing sector is down 1,800 jobs, financial activities down 1,200, information down 600 and other services down 300 statewide.

The stalwart of the Utah economy remains education and health care, explained the department of workforce services.

Year-over employment gains of 5,800 stand in sharp contrast to the negative actions surrounding the remainder of the state's economy.

People continue to demand health care even during tough economic times.

In addition, there is historically a noticeable flight toward the higher education system when the economy turns downward.

People also turn to education to not only update and enhance skills, but ride out the negative economic situations.

The same motivation is a reason that government is another industry that usually grows during an economic downturn, according to workforce services. Utah is undergoing a sizable growth in the state's elementary age population, which is fueling teacher growth.

Dropping economies also stimulate increased demand for government social services.

On the positive side of the economic spectrum, Utah's trade, transportation and utilities sector expanded and created 3,500 employment opportunities at locations throughout the state during the last 12 months.

However, the developing economic winds in Utah and across the nation do not bode well for the industry, particularly the trade component, noted the department of workforce services.

Fortunately, rapidly falling fuel prices are serving as a boon for Utah's transportation industry.

"The national financial crisis of the previous month was the final act that knocked the legs out from underneath a wobbly Utah economy. Utah is not an island and is not immune from the consequences of such an epic event. It is analogous to a room full of light bulbs. Some bulbs are 25 watts, some 60, some 75, others 100. When the switch is on, Utah is a 100 watt bulb. Utah thrives in a positive economic environment. But when the switch is turned off, all bulbs dim," pointed out Knold.

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