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Front Page » December 10, 2002 » Local News » Unemployment up in county and state
Published 4,690 days ago

Unemployment up in county and state

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November's unemployment rate for Utah rose slightly to 5.3 percent from the 5.1 percent reported in October.

Carbon Counties figures reflected a larger change. In October of 2002 the unemployment rate in the local area was 5.7 percent, but in November it jumped up .8 percent to 6.5. The entire southeastern part of the state saw a big jump with the Carbon-Emery-Grand and San Juan areas rising from 6.6 percent in October to a 7.3 percent rate during the 11th month of the year.

The state as a whole continues a trend of unemployment rates ranging between 5.0 and 5.5 percent during 2002. Approximately 60,650 Utahns were unemployed in November 2002, a 3.0 percent increase from the 58,860 in November 2001, when the unemployment rate was 5.2 percent. Mark Knold, Senior Economist for the Department of Workforce Services observed, "The time has not yet arrived for the Utah economy to charge back to its normal growth mode. We are shedding more jobs than we are creating. Even so, Utah does have job opportunities. There are a lot of dynamics that occur within the economy that result in job openings."

Utah's other primary indicator of current labor market conditions, the year-over change in the number of nonfarm wage and salaried jobs, still reflects a contracting economy. The number of Utah jobs in November is down 12,800, or -1.2 percent as compared to that reported in November 2001. October's employment measurement was revised slightly downward to -1.1 percent, from the preliminary -1.2 percent. Raylene Ireland, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Workforce Services noted, "Economically, it has been a slow year in Utah. But we are starting to see the initial signs of improvement. I feel we have moved past the bottom of the employment cycle. Over the next five months, we will be comparing our economic performance against the employment spike resulting from last year's Olympic buildup. We must keep this in mind and realize that this comparison may have the effect of masking the real gains occurring within our economy."

Nationally, the unemployment rate for November 2002 was 6.0 percent, the first rate at or above 6.0 percent since April. From May through October, the jobless rate remained within a range of 5.6 to 5.9 percent. The number of persons unemployed edged up to 8.5 million. The U.S. nonfarm employment picture continues to show modest improvements. Although still negative at -0.1 percent, the U.S. employment situation has been creeping toward the zero threshold (no charge), and with that it appears poised to return to positive territory. Job losses still continue in manufacturing, but the services industry is adding workers.

In Utah, only government and services are showing employment gains. Government added 5,500 new year-over jobs, and services 1,700. All other industrial sectors are showing modest to significant employment losses.

Without the 5,500 new jobs added in government, the Utah economy would be that much worse. Government has added the only significant counter to the mass of job loss. The federal government added over 2,200 new positions year-over, about 800 of these are new airport security workers. This is really just a shift from the private sector, where the 800 workers were previously classified, to the public sector. In other words, it is a neutral impact upon the economy. Local government employment increased by 2,800 positions, with half of this found in the educational system. State government showed a small increase in education employment.

Services is the other growth industry, adding 1,700 workers. This is an 0.8 percent growth rate- not much compared to the performance experienced throughout much of the late 1990's, but still a minor victory. It is significant to note that a year ago the Salt Lake Organizing Committee had around 1,400 workers who are nearly all gone. Therefore, in the face of being compared with last year's Olympic spike, the Olympic effect actually masks a larger gain that is occurring in services.

The rest of Utah's employment picture is negative. Construction stands out as the industry with the most lost jobs at 6,800. This is followed by manufacturing and trade, which both dropped 5,000 positions. Transportation/communications/utilities lost 2,100 jobs, finance/insurance/real estate 800, and mining 300.

Construction and manufacturing have been declining for several years, so the most noteworthy of these bottom three is trade. Trade began losing jobs earlier this year, but it showed some signs of stabilization in the summer months as consumers continued to find ways to spend money. But the employment declines have been picking up again in the latter end of 2002, suggesting that the consumer, who in a large degree has helped temper this recession, is running out of spending steam. Trade employment is down 2.0 percent, the 5,000 year-over lost jobs recorded in November are the highest number seen within trade's current slide.

Manufacturing, which employs over 118,00 workers, reported a loss of 5,000 year-over lost jobs recorded in November are the highest number seen within trade's current slide.

Manufacturing which employs over 118,000 workers, responded a loss of 5,000 year-over jobs in November. Manufacturing has really taken a beating in this recession. Its slide actually began four years ago, but it has really accelerated in 2002- and its decline is across the board. Metal products, electrical machinery, transportation equipment, food production, and a host of other manufacturing categories have all shed workers.

Construction has dropped the most jobs, losing around 6,800 over the past year. We knew this decline was coming, but does that make it more palatable? The industry still employs over 65,000 workers, but unfortunately, the employment slide is expected to continue into 2003.

Transportation/communication/utilities (T.C.U.) lost 2,100 jobs in the past year, a 2.0 percent decline. The communications sector has been severely impacted, dropping employments by nearly 10 percent. It still employs around 10,000 workers and is a significant industry, but it has been strongly affected by this recession. Trucking and warehousing jobs have declined by 4.4 percent, in response to the movement of fewer manufactured products and fewer retail trade goods. In some instances, trucking companies have gone out of business.

The finance/insurance/real estate (F.I.R.E.) industry lost 800 jobs in November of 2002 compared to last November, a 1.3 percent decline. Banking and related financial services have shed jobs as the financial markets have struggled.

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