Utah job count up, unemployment down
Utah's nonfarm wage and salaried job count for October 2012, as generated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), expanded by 2.3 percent compared against the employment level for October 2011. This is a 12-month increase of 28,300 jobs and raises total wage and salary employment to 1,258,600.
The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate-generated by BLS-is Utah's other primary indicator of current labor market conditions and registers 5.2 percent, a drop from last month's 5.4 percent.
Approximately 70,800 Utahns are considered to be actively unemployed. The current United States unemployment rate, as compared to last month, rose one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.9 percent.
As estimated this month, most of Utah's industrial sectors are contributing to job growth, with the two exceptions being construction and government. Professional and business services stands heads-and-tails beyond all other industries by adding 10,800 jobs over the past 12 months. The next highest accumulation is trade/transportation/utilities, gaining 4,300 jobs.
Utah's unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point this month, moving to 5.2 percent. For several years, Utah's unemployment rate declined from the 8.0-percent-range peak achieved in 2009 as people left the labor force (stopped looking for work) in larger numbers than those who gained employment.
Over the past year, the unemployment rate has continued to come down, but not because more people are leaving the labor force. Instead, it is due to more people now finding employment. The percentage of the 16 and over population that is either working or looking for work (the labor force participation rate) has risen from 66.1 percent at the beginning of 2012 to the current 66.8 percent. This underlies the argument that people on net are no longer leaving the labor force. The amount that is employed within the labor force age has risen from 62.3 percent to 63.3 percent.
Natural resources and mining continue to benefit from the oil and gas expansion within the Uintah Basin. It is estimated that 500 jobs have developed over the past 12 months in this industry. This industry employs around 12,600 workers in Utah.
Construction employment is estimated to have contracted once again, down 1,200 over the past 12 months.
The back-and-forth nature of the construction estimates this year (up some months, down in others) suggests the monthly employment survey struggles to effectively measure this industry. Construction is dominated by many small employers, and it is hard to gauge the cumulative activity of many small employers through a survey of limited size.
Other sources of employment data suggest the construction industry in Utah is growing again, and that growth has been consistent throughout 2012.
Utah's largest employment sector is Trade, Transportation, and Utilities. Estimated employment gains of 4,300 over the past 12 months are a growth rate of 2.6 percent. These gains are largely occurring on the trade side, both wholesale and retail.
The Information sector is estimated to have added 2,400 new jobs over the past 12 months. Information includes the publishing industry, motion pictures, telecommunications, and internet service providers, among others.
The Financial sector is making a rebound from the hit it took during the recession years. Approximately 3,800 jobs have been added over the past 12 months. Most of these are in financial institutions, as the real estate side of the equation has yet to post noticeable gains as the Utah housing market starts to revive.
The Professional and Business Services sector added the most new jobs in Utah over the past year at 10,800. A sizeable portion is coming from the professional, scientific, and technical side, an area that generally requires greater levels of education for employment and also returns higher-than-average wages. This includes accounting, engineering, design services, computer systems design forms, and consulting services, among others.
Private Education and Health Services is a stalwart of the Utah economy, having grown through both of the recessions of the past ten years. The sector is estimated to have added 2,500 new jobs in Utah over the past 12 months.
The Leisure and Hospitality sector is estimated to have added 2,900 new jobs over the past 12 months. Much of this is occurring in the restaurant industry.
Government employment is estimated to be down 900 positions over the past 12 months. The bulk of the job loss is coming at the federal government level, mostly at the IRS and the Postal Service. State government employment was up 1.0 percent over the year through higher education employment gains. Local government showed an employment increase of 0.8 percent over the past 12 months.
Additional analysis and tables http://jobs.utah.gov/wi/pubs/une/index.html
> Utah's November employment information will be released at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, December 21, 2012.