Unemployment rate climbs
Carbon County experienced climbing unemployment last month. The county recorded a 7.1 percent jobless level in December, up from the 6.7 percent rate posted in November 2002.
By comparison, Carbon's unemployment rate registered at 6.5 percent in December 2001.
In neighboring Emery County, the December unemployment increased to 9.9 percent from 9.3 percent in November 2002.
Emery County reported 11.1 percent joblessness in December 2001.
At the state level, unemployment in Utah climbed slightly to 5.6 percent in December compared to the 5.4 percent rate reported in November 2002.
Approximately 63,600 Utahns were unemployed last month.
"The slight rise reflects a continued inactiveness in the eco-nomy. We're playing out the economically-stagnant months we anticipated would occur during the late 2002 time period. Unfortunately, we probably have several more months of this to go before we could start to see the inklings of positive change. But for now, here we sit," noted Mark Knold, Utah Department of Workforce Services economist.
Utah's second primary indicator of labor market conditions, the year-over change in the number of non-farm wage and salaried jobs, remained negative and stagnant in December 2002.
The number of employment opportunities statewide decreased by 12,500 positions or 1.2 percent compared to December 2001.
"December's economic performance is a fitting finish to 2002 - a rare, but disappointing, economic year. Fortunately, it's now behind us, but its effects will linger on into the new year. Still, we do expect a brighter picture in 2003," pointed out workforce services director Raylene Ireland.
Nationally, the unemployment rate remained at 6.0 percent in December 2002 and the number of unemployed Americans remained essentially flat at 8.6 million.
The unemployment rate for adult women in the United States rose in December to 5.3 percent.
The jobless rates for other major worker groups included adult men at 5.6 percent, teenagers at 16.1 percent, whites at 5.1 percent, blacks at 11.5 percent and Hispanics at 7.9 percent changed little for the month.
U.S. non-farm employment declined 0.2 percent from December 2001 to December 2002.
In Utah, only the government sector is registered year-over employment growth.
December 2002 posted 4,600 additional jobs compared to December 2001. The gains were primarily split between federal and local governments.
The state's services sector slipped onto the negative side of the ledger in December.
The impact of the Olympics continued to influence the services sector's decline.
Last year, the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) put thousands of employees on the payroll. But the jobs have disappeared.
Without substantial employment gains in other services-classified industries, the result is a declining employment situation.
The SLOC influence should continue through March, then fade.
Services still represents Utah's largest employment grouping, with more than 313,000 workers statewide.
The gains posted by health care and private education were offset with losses in computer and business services.
Trade is the state's second largest employment sector, with approximately 252,000 workers.
Employment opportunities in Utah's trade sector decreased by 4,600 positions, outdistanced only by the 4,900 drop in the construction industry.
Apparently, employers anticipated a slow 2002 Christmas season and kept seasonal hiring to the lowest level in at least five years.
Trade employment was down throughout most of 2002, but the downturn deepened in December.
The construction downturn had been anticipated and workforce services expects job losses to continue in 2003.
Utah's manufacturing industry has been in a four-year employment slide and 2002 was particularly harsh.
The sector reported 2,700 fewer jobs statewide in December, but the pace of decline is slowing.
The manufacturing industry may be one of the first to show signs of the anticipated economic turnaround, indicated workforce services.
Transportation/communications/utilities is another industry that is down, but may have bottomed out.
The communications industry experienced two bad years and was one of the prime players in the technology collapse in the U.S. economic machine.
In Utah, communications employment had dropped more than 11 percent and recovery in the sector is not expected to start for several years, concluded the workforce service agency.