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Front Page » April 8, 2003 » Local News » Unemployment climbs in county
Published 4,564 days ago

Unemployment climbs in county

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Carbon County continues to experience climbing unemployment.

Joblessness in Carbon County registered at 7.9 percent in March 2003, up from the 7.4 percent rate posted in February. By comparison, Carbon County reported a 7 percent jobless rate in March 2002.

In neighboring Emery County, the unemployment rate increased from 10.2 percent in February to 10.9 percent in March. Emery County posed a 9.6 percent jobless rate in March 2002.

At the state level, Utah's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 5.8 percent in March.

Approximately 69,200 Utahns were unemployed last month, representing a 5.4 percent decrease from March 2002 when the statewide jobless rate registered at 6.2 percent.

"The unemployment rate moved up noticeably this month. This movement appears to contradict the improving employment situation we are currently seeing in Utah," noted Mark Knold, department of workforce services senior economist.

"But people may be perceiving an improving economy and re-entering the labor force looking for a job, but not yet finding one. This large volume re-entry would make the unemployment rate rise even in the face of an improving job market," explained the DWS senior economist.

Utah's second primary indicator of current labor market conditions, the year-over change in the number of non-farm wage and salaried jobs, is strengthening significantly.

March employment is down only 0.1 percent or 900 positions compared to the 2002 statewide jobless figure.

"March's employment numbers are almost at the break-even point. If we could remove last year's Olympic influence from the picture, the employment situation would actually be positive. In other words, we're adding more jobs than we're losing. This is extremely good news," pointed out Raylene Ireland, Utah Department of Workforce Services director.

Nationally, the United States unemployment rate remained unchanged in March at 5.8 percent, noted the Utah Department of Workforce Services director and senior economist .

The number of jobless Americans totaled 8.4 million last month and 4.7 million individuals worked part-time for various economic reasons.

The individuals wanted to work full-time, but settled for part-time jobs because the workers hours were cut or they were unable to find full-time employment.

By comparison, the number of Americans who were forced to work part-time increased by about half a million during the year.

On the employment side, using not seasonally adjusted numbers, the nation's job count is down a mere 0.2 percent.

This statistic has been hovering at this level for the last four months, signaling a U.S. economy stuck in neutral.

Nationally, there are 129.6 million jobs. Utah's March employment numbers are encouraging.

Although still down on a year-over basis by 0.1 percent - the only reason it is still in negative territory is the lingering influence of last year's Salt Lake Organizing Committee which was formed for the Olympic winter games.

Last March, SLOC still had approximately 3,500 workers on its payrolls to handle the Paralympics.

If the temporary jobs were removed from last year's count, the March 2003 employment picture would actually show an increase of 2,600 positions for a 0.2 percent expansion rate.

The data indicates that the Utah economy has moved out of the job-loss mode, indicated the department of workforce services officials.

The Utah economy experienced a rough year in 2002, but several industries are starting to rebound.

Sectors pulling out of poor 2002 performances include trade, transportation, utilities and information as well as professional and business services.

Although not adding jobs, the employment declines in the construction industry are moderating noticeably and any strengthening in the economically sensitive sector is encouraging.

On state and national levels, the decline in technology-based employment represented the primary reason for the economic slump experienced in Utah and across America.

Defining or classifying technology-based employment can be a subject of debate, explained the department of workforce services representatives. However, numerous economists argue that a major portion of the definition falls within two categories, information and professional-business services.

These sectors are two of the industries in Utah posting markedly improving employment situations.

The strongest industry in Utah continues to be education and health care.

This sector has grown throughout the soft economic environment of the last two years, acting as a beacon in the current stormy economic sea.

Since last March, the education and health care industry added approximately 3,800 new jobs to payrolls statewide.

Government constitutes a second area of employment expansion. Utah has enjoyed gains at the federal, state and local levels. Federal gains have come through transferred jobs to Hill Air Force Base as well as new security forces, particularly at the airport.

State government growth has been modest, occurring primarily within educational systems statewide.

Gains in education are more robust in the local government sectors than at the state level however.

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