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Front Page » January 26, 2006 » Local News » County's economy continues to generate expanding employment
Published 3,540 days ago

County's economy continues to generate expanding employment

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The coal industry has dominated Carbon County's economic history.

But during the 1990s, the local economic base started to diversify and expand into the transportation, utilities, government and services sectors.

Coupled with an improving coal forecast, the diversification has enabled Carbon County to maintain a relatively stable economy.

In fact, the latest data compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Services indicate that the county posted a 2.4 percent employment expansion rate in December 2005.

Last month, Carbon reported 8,895 non-farm employment opportunities compared to the 8,650 wage and salaried jobs available to county residents in 2004.

At the state level, Utah's unemployment rate for December 2005 registered at 3.8 percent, down from 5 percent in 2004.

Approximately 47,800 Utahns were unemployed last month, compared to 60,400 in December 2004.

Utah's second primary indicator of labor market conditions, the year-over change in the number of nonfarm wage and salaried jobs, registered at 3.9 percent.

The statewide job expansion represents a renewed movement in employment growth rates.

Rates hovered in the mid 3 percent range for much of the latter half of 2005. But at the end of last year, employment growth started moving upward.

"We are noticing a renewed strengthening in the Utah economy. Growth had approached 4 percent in the early part of 2005. But during the late spring through autumn period, employment growth had leveled off in the mid-3 percent range," pointed out Mark Knold, department of workforce services economist.

"We are now seeing that the growth rate is once again moving upward and it looks sustainable. Therefore, the outlook as we close this year and move into 2006 is that Utah's employment situation will steadily improve," explained the DWS economist.

Since December 2004, the United States' economy created two million jobs for a nationwide growth rate of 1.5 percent.

In the last year, Utah's economy added approximately 44,000 new jobs, a growth rate of 3.9 percent.

The Utah additions represent approximately 2.2 percent of all the jobs created in the U.S. during the past year.

Construction and professional and business services continued to lead the way in employment expansion in Utah in December, noted the department of workforce services.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector along with education and health services stood out as areas with strong employment gains.

All other industries continue to add workers in Utah, but at a more modest pace.

Construction created approximately 10,000 employment opportunities within the last year.

Utah's employment expansion volume increased steadily as 2005 progressed and reached the highest rate of growth at 13.2 percent witnessed in 10 years statewide.

Construction's gains were widespread at locations across the state. The metropolitan areas are experiencing the most construction activity, but even distant areas like the Uintah Basin are seeing significant construction growth. Residential construction is the foundation of the state's boom. The majority of construction activity is centered upon new housing developments, which includes occupations that employ framers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, roofers, etc.

Commercial and industrial construction is also booming statewide, although the employment levels are less than residential activity.

The professional and business services sector added 8,600 new jobs over the past year. Two areas stand out within this sector. The first is the growth in higher paying, knowledge based industries that hire workers such as engineers, accountants, architects, industrial designers and technical researchers. The professional sector was relatively hard hit during the recession of the early part of the decade. The return of high paying jobs in large numbers is an added bonus within Utah's economic expansion.

The other phenomenon is a rapid increase in employment through employment services. Activity in the sector frequently acts as a barometer of future economic direction. When the economy pulled out of recession in late 2003 and early 2004, the recovery was signaled by a rapid increase in employment through the sector. The current rapid rise in this sector may be signaling the beginning of a rise to an even higher level of employment growth for Utah.

When business surges, the business community reaches aggressively to thesector, using it as a vehicle to not only ramp up production quickly, but as a way to evaluate workers for permanent positions.

Trade, transportation and utilities represent the state's largest sector, employing nearly 234,000 workers. It has added approximately 7,000 new jobs over the past year, for a growth rate of 3.0 percent.

Retail trade is the biggest component within the sector. The holiday shopping season is the high point of employment in the sector. Early indications are that holiday hiring was robust last year.

The education and health care sector added 5,000 employment opportunitirs last year. Four thousand of the positions were in the health care sector. Dentist and doctor offices, therapists, clinics, laboratories, hospitals, care facilities and rehabilitation services posted employment gains.

The remaining seven industrial sectors also are experiencing employment gains. There is a bit of a gap between the employment gains observed in the top four industrial sectors and these seven industrial sectors. Combined, they added an additional 13,600 new jobs over the past year, which is modestly above the 10,000 new jobs added from just one sector construction.

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