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Front Page » July 7, 2009 » Carbon County News » Carbon's labor market expands
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Carbon's labor market expands


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By LYNNDA JOHNSON
Sun Advocate editor

Carbon County posted an 8.6 percent job expansion rate in May although the local unemployment climbed to 6.2 percent.

The latest data complied by the Utah Department of Workforce Services indicate that Carbon reported 10,370 active participants in the county's labor market in May 2009, compared to 9,553 in May 2008.

However, Carbon's jobless rate registered at 6.2 percent in May 2009, representing an increase compared to the six percent and 4.8 percent unemployment levels experienced in the local economy in April 2009 and May 2008 respectively.

At the state level, Utah's non-farm wage and salaried job count for May 2009 contracted by 3.3 percent in May, according to data generated by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Approximately 41,800 jobs have been removed from the Utah economy during the last year, lowering total wage and salary employment to 1,214,900 statewide.

Utah's second primary indicator of labor market conditions, the unemployment rate, rose to 5.4 percent in May.

Approximately 74,800 Utahns were considered unemployed in May 2009, compared to the 45,400 jobless workers reported statewide last year.

"Despite all the negative news, there are still bright spots in the economy," pointed out DWS economist Mark Knold. "We make note that the economy dropped 3.3 percent of its jobs over the past year."

"Yet, we should also note that the economy held on to 97 percent of those jobs," continued the department of workforce services representative. "That means there are still 1.214 million jobs in the Utah economy. Money is still being spent and new construction projects and repairs are still going on. This is not the first time the economy has hit a rough patch and it will not be the last. Oftentimes the seeds of future success are rooted in the difficult times of economic readjustment. Hope springs eternal."

Although job losses are still adding up statewide, initial unemployment insurance claims are starting to slow.

The variable is used as a gauge for the number of displaced workers thrust onto the unemployment rolls.

Despite the fact that numerous displaced workers are on the rolls, the inflow of new applicants into the process is slowing.

"This suggests that the worst of the job losses are behind us and that the low point of overall job loss in Utah may be approaching. We are not out of the woods yet, as employment is one of the last areas to recover once the business climate improves, but there is a feeling that the economy is close to turning a corner," explained Knold.

Nearly all industry sectors in Utah continued to show employment declines in May 2009, with only government, health care and natural resources posting year over employment gains.

Construction and manufacturing remained impacted in the current economic downturn, dropping 16,900 and 13,000 positions respectively.

Reduced consumer spending has prompted a statewide reduction in retail trade employment.

The retail trade sector's employment numbers dipped by roughly 1,400 positions at locations throughout Utah in the last year.

"Existing employers are making due with less," noted the department of workforce services economist. "There are also not as many goods to ship and, therefore, trucking employment is also down, with roughly 700 fewer trucking jobs than at this time last year. Air transportation jobs are also down as the economy affects the number of flying passengers. Losses here number close to 500."

In addition, approximately 7,100 jobs have been eliminated in Utah's professional and business services area.

One weak point is the state's temporary employment services area.

"Employment levels are down as compared to the same time last year. This naturally makes sense as the entire business climate is shedding workers, but this area is actually built to be the most sensitive to either job losses or gains," indicated Knold. "Companies use this industry to maintain labor flexibility. They can quickly add workers as the need arises or shed them if business so demands."

"Because of this industry's sensitive nature to the overall business climate and its rapid ability to respond, this industry is oftentimes used as a leading indicator of the economy's employment direction - a so called canary in the coal mine. With this industry's employment direction still downward, we conclude the economy is not yet at an inflection point, at least in terms of labor need," noted the DWS economist.

On the positive side of the spectrum, health care remained the stalwart in the Utah economy in the private sector, with employment expanding by 3 percent in the past year.

In the public sector, government employment registered higher than last year despite heavy constraints upon budgets, concluded the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

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