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Front Page » February 17, 2005 » Local News » Utah experiences expanding economy, employment levels
Published 3,883 days ago

Utah experiences expanding economy, employment levels

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The unemployment rate for January registered at 4.6 percent in January, down from the 5.7 percent jobless level reported statewide in 2004.

Approximately 54,500 Utahns were unemployed last month, compared to 68,100 in January 2004.

Utah's second primary indicator of current labor market conditions, the year-over change in the number of non-farm wage and salaried jobs posted 3.3 percent growth.

"The state's employment growth rate kicked up again this month, rising above the 3 percent level. After a bit of an energy price run up pause at the end of 2004, current lower energy prices have released that negative psychology and businesses seem to have responded quickly," noted Mark Knold, economist for the Utah Department of Workforce Services .

"We are seeing employment growth in every industrial sector. Construction is really doing well right now, reflecting a much more positive environment this January as compared to last year. Even the manufacturing sector is getting into the act. It has added more than 4,000 new jobs over the past year. That's a nice turnaround considering that industry has had a rough ride across the previous five years. All of this spells for a good start to the new year.," pointed out the DWS senior economist.

Since January 2004, the United States economy has added 2.2 million employment opportunities nationwide for a growth rate of 1.7 percent, according to the latest data compiled by the department of workforce services.

The Utah economy has added approximately 35,500 new jobs, for a growth rate of 3.3 percent.

The Utah additions represent approximately 1.6 percent of all the employment opportunities recorded in the United States during the past year.

The Utah economic expansion continues to be broad based, indicated the department of workforce services.

All industrial sectors in the state succeeded in adding new jobs in the past year. Six of the state's 11 employment sectors managed increase individual labor forces by 4,000 positions.

The majority of the new jobs have developed in the trade, transportation, and utilities sector. It has added 6,200 new jobs over the past year, for a growth rate of 2.9 percent. More than one-half of these jobs are in the retail trade sector. General merchandise stores, grocery stores and auto dealers lead the way. The trucking industry is also expanding, adding more than 700 jobs.

A recent job vacancy survey released by the Department of Workforce Services shows that truck drivers are in demand across all regions of the state.

The professional and business services sector is also doing well, adding 5,100 new jobs. Many of these are in employment services, such as workers finding jobs through employment agencies or temporary help facilities. But there are hundreds of new jobs developing in high paying areas like architecture and engineering.

The construction industry is doing well in Utah. It has added 5,000 new jobs over the past year. Home building sustained this industry though the past recession, and now the commercial market has picked up to add its contribution to the picture. Demand is high for construction laborers. Also the trade contractors like plumbers and pipefitters, finishing contractors and electricians.

The leisure and hospitality industry is seeing year-over employment gains of around 4,700 jobs.

Education and health services continues a multi-year pattern of adding many new jobs. Around 4,500 have been measured over the past year. Health care is facing a shortage of workers across the entire state, particularly nurses. The job vacancy survey reiterated that fact by placing nurses as the leading occupation that employers are having a difficult time filling across the entire state.

Manufacturing is making a strong rebound in Utah. It has added approximately 4,400 new jobs over the past year. Some of the gains are concentrated in a handful of large employers, but that's not the general theme. The theme instead is that many of the state's manufacturing employers, small to medium to large, are adding new workers or rehiring. The gains are broad based.

Government continues to add new jobs, primarily centered upon education. This includes state jobs at the state's various higher education centers and also public school jobs all classified at the local government level. Roughly 2,300 new jobs have been added in government entities over the past year. Federal government jobs are the only ones on the decline.

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