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Front Page » April 28, 2005 » Local News » Carbon, Utah register employment expansion
Published 3,813 days ago

Carbon, Utah register employment expansion

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Carbon County's labor market between expanded between March 2004 and March 2005, signaling that local economic conditions may be improving.

The latest data compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Services indicates that Carbon County experienced a 2 percent expansion rate in non-farm employment during the designated one-year period.

Last month, 8,566 Carbon residents occupied positions in the local workforce compared to 8,395 in March 2004. However, the number of employed workers in the local area dipped from the 8,573 figure reported in February 2005.

At the state level, Utah posted 3.7 percent job growth between March 2004 and March 2005.

The expansion rate in the state's second primary indicator of current labor market conditions remained at the best level reported since 1997.

"Utah's economic picture remains strong this month. We continue to be one of the top states economically. Several of our neighboring states are also doing well so there seems to be a regional economic dynamic that is helping to foster and support Utah's growth," pointed DWS director Tani Pack Downing.

In addition to reporting an expanding statewide job market, Utah's unemployment rate last month registered at 4.8 percent, down from 5.3 percent in March 2004.

"Utah is still riding the built-up economic and demographic momentum that propelled us out of the recent economic recession," noted DWS economist Mark Knold. "But with what looks like the beginnings of a run up in energy prices that could be higher and last longer than the increase of late 2004, we might be looking at the crest of this current economic wave. That's not to say the bottom will fall out, far from that. But from the current perspective, there seems to be a stronger possibility of the economy slowing a little than of it picking up more steam."

"The stock market has reacted negatively to a weak federal jobs report and the possibility of much higher oil prices. The market is famous for short-term, psychology driven ups and downs and this could be just another one of those blips. But if this negativity lasts for several months, then it will eventually translate into a weakening within the national economy. If this scenario develops, we would see this economic slowing in the latter half of the year," continued the DWS economist. "None of this is to say that the Utah economic growth will cease, only that there appear to be more signals suggesting a slowing of our growth rate than an increase. Because of this, large wage increases are not expected to permeate the market this year."

All of Utah's industrial sectors added jobs during the last year. The majority of the employment opportunities were in the trade, transportation and utilities area, with approximately 6,700 positions developing in the sector since March 2004. Retail trade establishments accounted for a significant number of the jobs.

The employment additions in Utah's retail trade sector are developing in response to a growing population base and an improved economic climate statewide.

"If we look around the state and its various regions, we see positive economic gains everywhere," confirmed Knold.

The professional and business services sector represented a second area of strong employment gains in Utah, adding 6,600 positions between March 2004 and March 2005. Construction expanded by approximately 5,700 jobs and residential projects fueled the statewide activity.

Education and health services expanded by 4,400 positions at locations across Utah. Government added around 3,700 employment opportunities at all three levels and manufacturing weighed in with the creation of nearly 3,000 jobs statewide.

"There is still abundant slack within the national and Utah labor markets to fill open positions, whether it be established Utah citizens or workers who are willing to move here from outside of the state. That slack is the cushion that will keep wage rates from rising rapidly. Over the past five years, labor force participation has fallen by a full percentage point, the largest and longest decline on record. Potential workers have left the labor market. This strongly suggests that the current unemployment rate understates the softness in the job market. There remains plenty of cushion for the economy to expand significantly without upward wage pressures that could translate into higher inflation. The only pressures on inflation this year will come from higher energy and raw material costs. But those in themselves will be significant enough," concluded the DWS economist.

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