Unemployment declines in county
Carbon County's unemployment rate decreased in October.
The local jobless rate registered at 6.4 percent last month, dropping from the 7.2 percent unemployment rate posted in September.
By comparison, Carbon County reported a 7.1 percent jobless rate in October 2002.
Neighboring Emery County experienced 9.4 percent unemployment in October. The figure is up slightly from 9.2 percent joblessness reported in Emery in September.
In October 2002, Emery County posted an 8.9 percent unemployment rate.
At the state level, the unemployment rate registered at 4.8 percent and approximately 58,000 Utahns were unemployed in October 2003.
Last October, 72,200 Utahns were unemployed, with the statewide unemployment rate registering at 6.1 percent.
"The current unemployment rate probably understates the real pressures facing our labor market," pointed out Mark Knold, senior economist for the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
"Discouraged workers are not included and, if we did measure them, the rate might easily be a percentage point higher," noted Knold. "With the unemployment rate going down and no job growth occurring, this seems counter-intuitive. So we have to assume that workers are leaving the labor force, whether by becoming a discouraged worker or else leaving the state."
Utah's second primary indicator of labor market conditions - the year-over change in the number of non-farm wage and salaried jobs - remained on the negative side of the ledger, down 0.2 percent in October. One-half of a year of no change reveals a stalled economy, explained the DWS senior economist.
The state's employment count stood at 1,079,000 jobs in October. The number represents 2,100 fewer jobs than were available statewide last year.
"It's somewhat discouraging to continue reporting upon the same economic environment," commented DWS director Raylene Ireland.
"But the optimist says that one additional month beyond the bottom of the economic cycle is one month closer to the next economic upturn. The recent positive movement in several of our national economic indicators supplies that optimist with the encouraging fuel they seek," added Ireland.
At the national level, the jobless rate in the United States remained essentially unchanged at 6 percent in October, when 8.8 million Americans were unemployed.
The job picture improved slightly nationwide, but continued on the negative side of the spectrum.
In September, the year-over employment deficit in the U.S. registered at 354,000 jobs nationwide.
The nationwide employment deficit narrowed to 226,000 jobs in October.
Utah's labor force continues to be under-utilized, particularly when compared to the turbo-charged environment of the 1990s, indicated the department of workforce services.
The state's employment market experienced skill shortages and the labor force came up short in supporting the business community in the 1990s, pointed out the DWS economist and director.
Computer systems design and developing technologies were offering premium wage rates to Utahns, continued the DWS representatives.
But the computer and developing technologies sectors could not attract qualified employees due to the fact that the members of the state's labor force lacked the required skills.
With the current economic slowdown lasting several years, part of the gap may be closing by the natural flow of Utahns going to schools and universities to obtain education, explained the department of workforce services representatives.
The situation, coupled with the anticipation that growth in Utah will not return to the level achieved in the turbo-charged environment of the late 1990s, prompts economists to predict the skill set of the state's labor force will be adequate to meet the business community's needs when economic expansion emerges.
The demand for nurses and medical-related technicians in Utah slightly exceeds the supply in the state's labor force, noted the department of workforce services.
The health care industry managed to expand throughout the present three-year economic downturn and the sector currently posts a 3.2 percent year-over job growth rate.
But the overall employment picture remains quiet in Utah, representing a continuation of what the state has experienced during the majority of 2003, concluded the department of workforce services.