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Front Page » September 10, 2002 » Local News » Carbon workforce witnesses dipping unemployment rate
Published 4,390 days ago

Carbon workforce witnesses dipping unemployment rate


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Carbon County's workforce witnessed slightly declining unemployment in August.

Carbon's jobless rate dipped to 5.7 percent from the 6.6 percent unemployment figure reported in July 2002.

By comparision, joblessness in Carbon County registered at 5.5 percent in August 2001.

At the state level, Utah's unemployment rate for August 2002 registered at 5 percent.

"After having fallen into the 5 percent range in the latter half of 2001, the unemployment rate has remained pretty stable. Utah's job market is not very dynamic right now, so this stable unemployment rate is consistent with the market's inertia," noted Mark Knold, senior economist for the department of workforce services.

Approximately 56,900 Utahns were unemployed in August. The number represents a 17 percent increase from the 48,654 unemployment residents reported statewide last year when the jobless rate was 4.4 percent.

Utah's second primary indicator of current labor market conditions, the year-over change in the number of non-farm wage and salaried jobs, continued to slip downward.

The number of Utah jobs reported in August 2002 was down 20,400 or 1.9 percent against 2001 figures.

"Some of the decrease is an anomaly in that we are beginning to make year-over comparisons against the Olympic buildup of a year ago. But that explains away only a small proportion of the additional decline. Its primary cause is rooted in the overall weakness of the United States economy," explained Raylene Ireland, workforce services director.

Nationally, the unemployment rate in August registered at 5.7 percent, a slight decrease from July's jobless figure.

The number of Americans unemployed at locations across the nation totaled 8.1 million in August. U.S. non-farm employment remained in negative territory. The year-over non-farm employment was down by 0.9 percent.

The nation's employment situation has hovered close to designated mark for the last several months.

After showing signs in June and July of possibly stabilizing or bottoming out, the Utah economic slide grew deeper in August. Year-over losses dropped 1.9 percent for 20,400 fewer jobs.

The economic excesses of the late 1990s produced a large amount of overcapacity or too much supply statewide. The amount of oversupply has become better understood as financial statements and mis-statements have come to light.

Businesses had utilized cheap financing to expand capacity in anticipation of the continued high expansion rates of the 1990s. The growth has not materialized, but the expanded capacity has become reality. The excess capacity must be absorbed or eliminated, a process that takes time, indicated workforce services.

The amount of overcapacity during the late 1990s is significant. Large reductions in a short period of time would be one way the market could eliminate the excess supply, but the actions of the U.S. government - lowering the federal funds rate and taxes while increasing spending - have forestalled that option, pointed out workforce services.

The federal actions are making the economy's needed cuts less severe, but will drag the cuts over a longer period of time.

The bottom line is there are still more economic pressures to take capacity out of the system than there is the need to expand and develop more capacity. So the Utah economic downturn will probably continue throughout the rest of the year.

One factor supporting the conjecture is that the services division, Utah's largest industry sector that will eventually lead an economic turnaround, has slid onto the negative side of the ledger. The division still employs employs more than 316,000 Utahns, but the sector's 0.2 percent decline in August means a loss of 600 positions statewide.

Hotels, computer and business services along with auto repair are all declining employment areas across the state. Fortunately, the health care industry remains strong.

Construction continued the industry's year-long slide. Employing around 69,700 Utahns, construction had 6,600 fewer workers than measured in August 2001. The constriction marks construction as the industry with the largest year-over decline in employment in Utah.

Manufacturing followed with a decrease of 6,400 jobs, but the size of the sector's year-over loss is actually a slight improvement compared to recent months, according to workforce services.

Nationally, the manufacturing industry slipped into a decline three years ago. The sector slumped long before any other industrial sector and had more time to weed out its level of overcapacity. Lately, several national indicators have started to suggest that the industry is starting to witness improvement, but it is too early to pronounce an end to manufacturing's longstanding malaise.

The industry conglomeration of transportation/communications/utilities remains on a weak footing in Utah, with employment levels down 4.4 percent year-over.

The industry provided 58,200 jobs in Utah in August, but trucking and communications are scaling back in response to oversupply in the sectors.

The trade industry remains flat statewide, with year-over employment falling by 5,000 workers or 2.0 percent. Trade provides 247,700 positions and is Utah's second largest employment division.

Food stores, restaurants, department stores and building-garden stores all reported fewer employees in August.

Government continued to stand as the only industry in the state adding employment opportunities, with gains of 2,700 workers. The federal and local subdivisions represented the points of increased job opportunities, while state government employment decreased in August.


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