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Front Page » July 15, 2003 » Local News » Carbon posts rising unemployment rate
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Carbon posts rising unemployment rate

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Staff reporter

Carbon County continues to experience climbing unemployment rates.

Carbon's jobless rate registered at 8 percent in June 2003. The local measure jumped six percentage points from the 7.2 jobless rate reported in May.

By comparison, Carbon County posted a significantly lower, 5.3 percent unemployment rate in June 2002.

In neighboring Emery County, the jobless rate dipped to 10.4 percent in June from May's 10.9 percent unemployment figure.

Emery County reported a 7.3 percent jobless rate in June 2002.

At the state level, Utah's unemployment rate registered at 5.2 percent in June 2003, declining one-tenth of a percentage point from May's 5.3 percent measurement.

Approximately 63,300 Utahns were unemployed in June 2003. Last June, 68,900 Utahns were unemployed.

"It's good to see the rate down as compared to last year at this time," noted Mark Knold, senior economist with the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

"The rate began moving down at the end of 2002. But throughout 2003, it has remained essentially flat. It's an indication of an economy not adding new jobs, but still experiencing churn and turnover within its existing job market," added 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 in the state dropped to -0.2 percent, indicated the latest report compiled by the department of workforce services

The job creation statistic had been trending modestly upward in Utah, but June's measurement reflects a minor setback regarding employment at locations across the state.

Utah reported 1,900 fewer employment opportunities statewide in June than recorded a year ago.

"The run up in energy prices and the run down in stock prices preceding the Iraq War is still playing out," explained Raylene Ireland, Utah Department of Workforce Services director.

"Right when Utahns hoped the economy might start to build, some obstacle emerges to release the steam."

"I wouldn't be surprised if we continue to see this forward-and-backward pattern as this year unfolds," indicated Ireland.

Nationally, the number of unemployed Americans increased by 360,000 in June to 9.4 million and the jobless rate rose from 6.1 in May to 6.4 percent in June.

In June, 2.0 million unemployed Americans had been looking for work for 27 weeks or longer, an increase of 410,000 for the year. this year unfolds," explained department of workforce services director Raylene Ireland.

Nationally, the number of unemployed Americans increased by 360,000 in June to 9.4 million and the jobless rate rose from 6.1 in May to 6.4 percent in June.

In June, 2.0 million unemployed Americans had been looking for work for 27 weeks or longer, an increase of 410,000 for the year.

The United States job count for the second consecutive month remained negative at -0.3 percent. The employment measure has persisted at slightly below the zero-percent growth threshold throughout 2003, an indication of a stagnant economy. Nationally, there were 131 million jobs in June 2003

In Utah, the economy was slowly moving forward, looking like it was on the verge of going back into positive year-over employment growth and staying there. But June's loss is probably the result of high energy prices leading up to the Iraq War. Prices have fallen and DWS anticipates that Utah's economy will start benefiting from the decline. However, the benefits may be minimal.

The stock market could also be a negative factor impacting Utah's economy. The market bottomed out prior to the war. But the market has jumped 20 percent since March 2003. The economy frequently follows the stock market. Market conditions should bode well for the economy later in the year.

But the economy faces several major obstacles, including additional cutbacks in the airline industry. The automobile industry could see layoffs as current labor contracts begin to expire.

Natural gas prices have risen sharply and short supplies are expected to keep the costs high. High natural gas prices also affects consumers and industries.

The housing market has been a support to the state and national economy, even in the face of the prolonged economic downturn. Without the impetus of historically low mortgage rates, the economic performance in Utah and the U.S. would be worse. But the present housing activity is likely stealing future demand.

The housing market is currently helping to drive the economy. But the roles will likely reverse in two years and the economy will have to drive the housing market.

An ongoing downturn in employment in professional and business services continued to negatively affect Utah's overall employment picture in June. The industry has been on the losing jobs side of the ledger for months. But the statewide losses appeared to deepen in June.

The decline may be a momentary blip, as temporary help workers are classified in the industry and the related employment levels can fluctuate rapidly depending upon the economic mood.

Manufacturing remains a sore spot in Utah's economy. The industry keeps sliding with employment losses as firms readjust and some jobs move overseas.

Education and health services continued to be a bright spot in Utah's economy, adding around 3,000 new jobs across the year. In addition, government employment is rising in response to education and security needs.

All other industries operating at locations across the state continued to record slight employment losses or gains. The employment losses tend to cancel out employment gains and Utah's new job picture remains lifeless.

Economic conditions occurring during the first half of 2003 have prompted workforce services to lower the projected 2003 Utah employment growth rate to basically zero percent, concluded the department representatives.

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