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Front Page » December 28, 2004 » Local News » County jobless rate stablizes, while employment contracts
Published 3,937 days ago

County jobless rate stablizes, while employment contracts

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Carbon County's employment contracted by 1.5 percent in second quarter 2004 as the local goods and service producing industries shed positions.

Despite the job losses, the countys jobless rate managed to remain relatively stable.

Construction activity and gross taxable sales were up across the county during the quarter, hopefully pointing to stronger economic conditions in the future, indicated Michael Hanni, regional economist for the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

Nevertheless, the local construction industry dropped 15 positions as a result of a significant decrease in heavy and civil engineering projects.

In addition, the creation of 15 employment opportunities in Carbons manufacturing sector failed to compensate for the loss of 67 jobs in the local mining industry.

But looking forward, employment in the coal industry should stabilize or increase with the reopening of several area mines in the Carbon County area, pointed out Hanni.

If the action plans pan out, the local economy should rebound nicely.

Otherwise, the county will likely conclude 2004 with slow-to-no growth when workforce services compiles the final data for the year.

Revenues generated by Utah's coal mining industry dropped in 2003 to the lowest level in 18 years, a victim of declining production and lower market prices.

The state's 14 active coal mines yielded just less than 23.1 million tons of coal last year, the lowest since 1993, indicated the DWS regional economist.

With the average price of a ton of coal dropping to $16.64, nearly half the going rate 20 years ago, the amount of revenue generated directly by coal mining in 2003 slipped to $384 million, indicated the economist.

Carbon County remains dependent upon high-paying coal mining employment. The jobs help provide the economic fuel that powers the rest of the economy.

Therefore, as mining employment contracts, it is not surprising to see cuts in other industries - especially service related industries, said Hanni.

Second quarter 2004 declines in goods producing employment spilled over into the county's service industries.

The local services sector lost 59 jobs during the year for a decline of 0.8 percent.

The department of workforce services regional economist attributed the loss to sizable drops in retail trade and professional services. However, Carbon County's private education and health services sector posted positive growth, increasing by 62 positions.

Information services added 14 local employment opportunities, while leisure and hospitality created 20 jobs.

As measured by permit valuation, construction activity in the area jumped approximately 25 percent in second quarter 2004.

The number of new dwellings fell by one unit during the last year, but the increased valuation of permits pushed residential construction up 35 percent to $2.35 million, commented Hanni.

Non-residential construction, on the other hand, fell roughly 36 percent to $506,000.

Remodeling activity for residential and non-residential properties in Carbon County increased significantly, almost doubling in value compared to 2003.

Nearly 80 percent of all construction activity was located in unincorporated areas of the county, noted the DWS regional economist.

Year-over gross taxable sales in Carbon County slowed in second quarter 2004 to 5.2 percent after having grown by 14.6 percent in first quarter.

Business investment purchases remained basically flat, with small gains in mining and transportation making up for losses in electric, gas and construction.

Wholesale trade in durable goods climbed roughly 12 percent. Retail trade activity was mixed, but food store purchases pushed the group up 3.9 percent. Service producing industries jumped 41.3 percent, led by a more than doubling in business sales, concluded Hanni.

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