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Front Page » March 23, 2006 » Local News » Carbon experiences employment growth
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Carbon experiences employment growth

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Carbon County continued to experience an expanding labor market in February.

The latest data compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Services indicate that the county's job growth rate climbed 6 percent last month.

In February, 9,259 local residents were employed in non-farm salaried or wage jobs. By comparison, Carbon County's economy created 8,637 employment opportunities in February 2005.

At the state level, Utah's unemployment rate registered at 3.8 percent in February, down from 4.4 percent in 2005.

Approximately 49,700 Utahns were unemployed in February compared to the 55,300 jobless residents reported statewide in 2005.

Utah's second primary indicator of labor market conditions, the year-over change in non-farm wage and salaried jobs, registered at 4.4 percent.

"The current employment growth in the mid 4 percent range is the best period of employment growth Utah has experienced since the early part of 1997," explained Mark Knold, DWR economist. "Utah's long-term average employment growth is 3.3 percent per year so we're currently performing above average. We last operated at or above average in 1998."

"Utah had eight years where population grew at or above average, but the economy grew below average. This creates a population to job count imbalance. With the overall national economic environment improving last year, the Utah economy was freed to close the gap between population gains and economic support. I believe the closing of this gap is the underlying reason Utah's economy is currently performing as one of the best state economies in the nation," pointed out Knold.

Since February 2005, the U.S. economy has added 2.1 million new jobs - a growth rate of 1.6 percent. Over the past year, Utah's economy added approximately 49,300 new jobs, a growth rate of 4.4 percent. The Utah additions represent about 2.3 percent of all the new jobs added in the U.S. over the past year. The U.S. unemployment rate registered 4.8 percent in February.

As has been the case throughout most of Utah's current economic expansion, all industrial sectors are contributing to the employment growth. This ranges from a high of 11,500 new jobs over the past year in the professional and business services sector, to 800 new jobs in the small category labeled "other services."

The professional and business services sector consists of around 150,700 jobs in Utah, or 13 percent of the state's employment base. It consists of two large subsectors - professional and technical services, and administrative and waste services. The former consists of jobs that are generally higher-paying and require secondary educational training and expertise. These include, but are not limited to, engineers, architects, accountants, drafters, scientific researchers, and marketing professionals. This area added roughly 5,000 new jobs over the past year.

The other large sector within professional and business services is administrative and waste services. The big industries there are employment placement agencies, temporary help services, and telemarketing activities. This wing of professional and business services is larger, and it added over 6,000 new jobs during the past year.

About 60 percent of all the jobs in the professional and business services sector in Utah are found in Salt Lake County. However, over the past year, roughly 68 percent of the 11,500 new jobs in the professional and business services sector developed in Salt Lake County. This higher proportion is being driven by the administrative and waste services side, with 70 percent of the 6,000 jobs added in that sector centered in Salt Lake County. On the other side, the development of new professional and technical jobs was not disproportionately centered in Salt Lake County, but instead followed a pattern equal to their previous proportional distribution throughout the state.

Construction is currently a booming industry in Utah. It is adding new jobs at a higher proportion than its overall presence within the Utah economy. To illustrate, the entire economy added 49,300 new jobs over the past year. The construction sector added 9,500 of these new jobs, so the construction industry accounted for 19 percent of all new jobs. But when you look at the construction industry's share of all Utah jobs new and existing it represents 7 percent of the economy. An industry is "booming" when it constitutes 7 percent of the state's total jobs, but accounts for 19 percent of all its new jobs.

Natural resources is another industrial sector adding new jobs in a higher proportion than its normal contribution to the economic base. A minor drawback is that this sector is so small in Utah that even though it produced 2.8 percent of all new jobs while it makes up less than 1 percent of the state's economic base, that excessive proportion is still a small number. The 1,400 new jobs added over the past year is small, but some of the state's energy-dependant economies like Uintah, Duchesne, and Carbon counties welcome these small, but to them, significant, gains.

The trade, transportation, utilities sector added around 7,900 new jobs over the past year. That is quite respectable, but is it considered a "boom" for this industry? Not really. This is the state's largest sector. At approximately 226,700 jobs, this sector makes up 19 percent of the economic base. The 7,900 new jobs added over the past year are 16 percent of all new jobs created. That's a sizeable percentage, but is actually a percentage slightly smaller than that industry's overall proportion of the economic base.

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