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Front Page » November 5, 2002 » Local News » Unemployment rate dips in Carbon County, state fights to ...
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Unemployment rate dips in Carbon County, state fights to recover from recession effects

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Carbon County's unemployment rate dipped slightly in October to register at 5.6 percent, declining from the 5.7 percent level reported in September.

By comparison, the latest data compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Services indicates that Carbon County posted a 4.8 percent unemployment rate in October 2001.

In neighboring Emery County, the jobless rate decreased from 9.6 percent in September to 9.1 percent in October 2002. Emery County reported a 9.5 unemployment rate in October 2001.

At the state level, October's jobless rate for Utah dipped slightly to 5.1 percent from the 5.3 percent reported in September.

The situation continues the trend of statewide unemployment rates ranging between 5 percent and 6 percent during 2002.

Approximately 57,538 Utahns were unemployed in October 2002, a 7.3 percent increase from the 53,618 in October 2001, when the unemployment rate was 4.8 percent.

"While not wanting to be too pessimistic, the outlook for Utah's economy is for more slow and uneven growth," observed Austin Sargent, workforce services regional economist. "Fundamental economic imbalances remain in the national and local economy."

"Waning consumer confidence, high debt loads and uncertainty related to possible military action in Iraq will continue to hinder growth in the short-term. However, the long-term prospect calls for improvement as the economy works through these issues. Time and patience are the prescription for recovering from the economic binge of the late 1990s," noted the Utah Department of Workforce Services representative.

Utah's second primary indicator of current labor market conditions, the year-over change in the number of non-farm wage and salaried jobs statewide, continued to report losses in October. But the rate of decline slowed, offering a glimmer of hope for the future.

Utah employment opportunities decreased by 12,900 positions or 1.2 percent compared in October compared to the non-farm job totals reported statewide last year.

"Hopefully, Utah has seen the worst part of this recession. While we look forward with optimism for continued slow improvement in the labor market, we know there are still some significant economic hurdles to overcome. These hurdles will continue to hinder Utah's recovery through the rest of this year and probably into 2003 before we see more consistent rates of job growth," noted Raylene Ireland, workforce services department director.

Nationally, October's unemployment rate registered at 5.7 percent, a slight increase from September's 5.6 percent.

The number of unemployed American workers totaled 8.2 million.

Non-farm employment in the United States continued a downward trend in October 2002, falling 0.4 percent from last year.

The nation's employment situation has been in decline since September 2001. However, the rate of decrease has slowed as the U.S. economy gradually recovers

In Utah, construction continued to register the largest decline in employment in October. The 67,600 workers in the construction industry represented a drop of 6,500 job from a year ago, a decrease of 8.8 percent.

Utah's trade industry, the second largest employment sector in the state with 245,500 workers, continues to shed jobs, reporting 4,400 fewer positions in October compared to last year.

Trade will continue to struggle as consumer spending, which has sustained Utah through the current recession, is expected to slow as consumer pull back from incurring more debt and due to uncertainty related to the economy, according to the workforce services department.

Manufacturing employs more than 120,000 Utahns, but the sector reported a loss of 4,300 year-over jobs in October.

While manufacturing has borne the brunt of the recession at the state and national level, Utah's industry has witnessed job losses slow from around 8,000 at the beginning of 2002 to approximately half of the designated number.

Transportation/communications/utilities has been battered by the ongoing impacts of the national recession. Utah's TCU industry lost 2,400 year-over jobs in October, for a decline of 4.0 percent. Trucking, communications and utilities suffered the majority of the jobs losses.

The finance/insurance/real estate industry lost 800 jobs statewide in October compared to last year, representing a 1.3 percent decline. Banking and related financial services shed employment positions as the financial markets continued to struggle.

Utah's largest industry, services with 315,000 workers, reported employment gains in October 2002.

Services added 1,600 jobs for an increase of 0.5 percent. Health, recreation, engineering and professional services showed an improved employment picture. Offsetting the gains were continued job losses in computer services and lodging.

Government added 4,300 employment opportunities in Utah. The majority of the increase resulted from the shift of around 1,000 airport security service positions from the private sector to the federal government. Due to the switch, federal employment in Utah jumped 5.4 percent in October.

Local government employment opportunities in Utah also increased last month, while state government jobs declined.

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