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Front Page » March 17, 2005 » Local News » Carbon County posts employment growth
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Carbon County posts employment growth

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Carbon County experienced a 2.5 percent employment expansion rate between February 2004 and February 2005.

The latest data compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Services indicate that the number of non-farm jobs in Carbon County climbed from 8,364 in 2004 to 8,571 last month.

At the state level, Utah's unemployment rate for February registered at 4.8 percent, down from 5.4 percent last year.

Approximately 59,000 Utahns were unemployed in February 2005, compared to 64,300 in February 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, reached the best level since 1997, registering 3.7 percent growth.

"What a difference a year makes. A year ago, Utah was still in the early stages of its rebound from an unprecedented recessionary period. We were adding new jobs, but the economic environment was still somewhat tepid. Now, however, Utah stands second in the nation in employment growth at 3.7 percent, trailing only Nevada," noted Tani Pack Downing, department of workforce services director.

According to department of workforce services officials, Utah's current economic environment is starting to resemble the prosperous years the state enjoyed in the 1990s.

"It's becoming increasingly clear that the demographic trends that continued unabated during Utah's recessionary period of the early 2000s are now the responsible agent for Utah's current strong economic performance. Utah's population growth continued during that economic slow period, as did in-migration. Ultimately, the civilian labor force grew beyond the job market's ability to absorb this growth. Potential was greater than reality. Potential is now trying to catch up with reality. Population demands goods and services and, eventually, the market will have to adjust and accommodate this population growth," pointed out Mark Knold, department of workforce services economist

Utah's movement toward posting one of the best job expansion rates in the country is a direct result of the correction of the demographics to employment growth imbalance. The economy is playing catch up to the population growth.

An interesting aspect is the fact that the expansion is occurring primarily at locations outside of Salt Lake County.

Washington County and Cedar City are witnessing economic booms. Additional growth areas include Summit, Wasatch, Davis, Utah, Uintah and Duchesne counties. Only Daggett County reported a year-over employment decline.

Utah's economy is improving, but it will take time for the overall benefits to trickle down to larger segments of the population.

Since February 2004, the United States economy has added 2.4 million jobs for a growth rate of 1.8 percent. The Utah economy has added approximately 40,100 employment opportunities, an expansion rate of 3.7 percent. The Utah additions represent about 1.4 percent of all jobs added across the U.S. within the last year.

One of the better performing industrial sectors in Utah is construction, which added around 6,600 new jobs across the past year.

"Construction has been a pleasant surprise and has really bounced back strong. We knew there would be a construction employment decline after the buildup to the 2002 Winter Olympics. We also knew that construction employment would eventually bounce back. The question was when. I guess we can say the fortunate part is that the bounce back is now, not still down the road as we had anticipated. Missing the forecast may bruise an ego or two, but that's OK because it means the economy is going strong and that things are getting better quicker than anticipated. If you look at the amount of announced and anticipated construction projects going forward, this healthy construction environment should continue right on into 2006," commented Knold.

The state's trade, transportation and utilities industry posted the largest growth level in the one-year period with approximately 7,600 positions. The industrial sector acts in direct proportion to population increases, particularly the largest subcomponent retail trade. Utah market."

Another area with strong employment growth is professional and business services, adding approximately 5,500 new jobs within the past year. The gains were a mix of high-paying, knowledge-based professional positions and jobs found within the temporary help and employment services areas. Employment services grew by roughly 2,700 jobs, while the professional level positions expanded by roughly 2,200 positions.

All of Utah's remaining industrial sectors added jobs in the past year. Education and health services created 4,400 positions statewide, followed by leisure and hospitality with 3,900 and government with 3,600.

Utah's manufacturing sector created approximately 2,700 jobs statewide, concluded the department of workforce services.

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