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Front Page » April 12, 2005 » Local News » Bankruptcies drop, employment growth fuels Utah's economy
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Bankruptcies drop, employment growth fuels Utah's economy

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Utahns filed 5 percent fewer bankruptcies statewide during the first three months of 2005. The decrease may represent a signal that the downward trend in personal insolvencies starting in Utah last year may continue in 2005.

The United States Bankruptcy Court reported that 4,861Utahns filed for protection in first quarter 2005.

The number represents 251 fewer cases than were submitted to the federal bankruptcy court by residents statewide during the first three months of 2004, pointed out the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

In the latest Utah Profile, the FDIC confirmed that better than average job growth has strengthened the state's economy.

Although Utah continues to struggle with past-due loan delinquencies, past-due mortgage loans and commercial real estate vacancies, the FDIC predicted that the state's employment expansion rate should remain robust through 2005.

Ending April 2, the four-week average of initial unemployment insurance claims filed statewide totaled 1,156, pointed out the latest Trendlines report released by the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

The figure represents a 7.3 percent decrease compared to the four-week average of 1,247 unemployment benefit claims filed last year.

Weeks claimed by unemployed Utahns numbered 12,807, dropping 20.6 percent compared to 16,132 in 2004.

At the national level, the U.S. Labor Department reported that 334,000 displaced American workers filed for unemployment benefits in the seven-day period ending April 2, down from 353,000 the previous week.

The four-week moving average for jobless claims filed at locations throughout the nation stood at 336,500.

On a negative note, high oil and natural gas prices have put energy markets under a degree of strain unwitnessed in a generation, confirmed U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

But market forces should lead to an increase in crude oil inventories and cool the price "frenzy." The Fed chairman urged American policymakers to allow market forces work.

The nationwide average for unleaded regular gasoline will peak next month at $2.35 a gallon, projected the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The average experienced by motorists stopping to refuel at pumps across the nation will be $2.28 for the April-September driving season. The EIA's latest gas-price survey showed the U.S. average for unleaded regular at a record $2.22 per gallon.

The world's appetite for oil is expected to grow robustly in the upcoming decades, fed by improving standards of living in developing countries and a jump in automobile ownership. The situation will probably keep prices high, indicated the International Monetary Fund. World demand for oil is projected to surge from around 82.4 million barrels a day in 2004 to 138.5 million by 2030.

U.S. and global economic growth peaked in 2004, noted the World Bank. The financial institution predicted a gradual economic slowdown, while not completely ruling out the possibility of a global recession.

But on a more positive note, the World Bank indicated that the American dollar was unlikely to suffer a destabilizing drop, but would probably decline 10 percent in the next few years.

The percentage of American teenagers working or looking for employment has steadily fallen in the last two decades to the lowest level on record. The percentage of youth ages 16 to 19 in the workforce fell to 44 percent in 2004.

Although the percentage was slightly higher at 54 percent in July 2004, the portion of teens with jobs last summer was still the lowest on record, concluded the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

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