Labor force skills, education fueling region's economy
The skills and education of residents in Carbon County and the southeastern region are critical ingredients of economic growth and development.
For the southeast in particular and rural areas in general, making a heavy investment into human capital can seem like a tall order., pointed out the latest regional Trendlines report released by the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
Money, distance, low population density and tradition can all play a role in keeping higher education investment on the back burner in rural areas. But several higher education institutions located in southeastern Utah continue to focus on providing opportunities to people throughout the region.
The region encompasses Carbon, Emery, Grand and San Juan counties.
One of the local higher education institutions is College of Eastern Utah in Price.
In addition to providing more than 400 courses in 60 fields of study, CEU recently received a $2.7 million grant to create a world-class energy training center, noted the department of workforce services.
When in operation, the CEU facility will have the potential of training 2,100 individuals per year for careers in the mining and energy industries.
The center's focus on the core competencies of the energy industry will be complemented with attention to increasing the proficiency of students in the areas of math and science.
In addition, a $6.3 million health sciences library will open on the college campus in San Juan.
The facility will be equipped with 5,000 square feet of library space and multiple distance education camera rooms.
The region is also home to the Southeast Applied Technology College.
Situated in Price, the applied technology college provides courses for a number of certificate programs and specialized fields, explained the department of workforce services.
The addition of the ATC to the region rounds out the education opportunities open to workers and students in the local area, pointed out the department of workforce services.
The applied technology college also provides an invaluable resource to industry by responding to the ongoing need for skills training and certification renewal.
An overview of institutions of higher education in the southeastern region would be incomplete without mentioning Utah State University's extension programs, explained the department of workforce services.
From Moab or Blanding, students of all ages are able to complete classes that will lead to degrees from bachelors all the way to doctorates.
Increasing education opportunities for southeastern Utah residents represents an important and necessary part of local economic development plans. Without investment in the human capital of the region, residents and businesses will encounter an inability to effectively complete in a global market, indicated the department of workforce services.
At the local level, employment gains in Carbon's mining and transportation industries pushed the county's year-over job growth rate to 4.1 percent in September 2005. The employment expansion rate was especially impressive in light of sizable job losses in construction, education and services industries.
Gross taxable sales grew 24.7 percent in third quarter 2005, up more than $21.5 million compared to Carbon's 2004 data. Increased retail and wholesale trade sales made up 75 percent of the growth.
Wholesale durable goods sales were of particular note, alone making up 26 percent of the total increase in gross taxable sales reported by Carbon County.
Last September, Emery posted a 2 percent year-over increase in the number of jobs in the county. The expanding employment was primarily made possible through increases in the mining, transportation and utilities industries.
Construction activity in Emery County dropped significantly, noted the department of workforce services. But permit authorized data pointed to an increase in activity, with total construction valuation climbing 2 percent and new dwelling units increasing 10 percent.
Gross taxable sales for Emery County showed a pronounced 26 percent increase in third quarter 2005 compared to 2004.
According to the latest data finalized by the department of workforce services, employment in Grand County grew 6 percent between September 2004 and 2005. However, the rate is misleading due to the fact that the manufacturing job gains were reported for a firm located in a different county.
Taking the data error into account, Grand posted employment increases in a number of industries, particularly mining, construction, retail trade, rental, leasing, health care and recreation.
Grand County's year-over gross taxable sales grew 8.5 percent in third quarter 2005, with recreation and accommodations sales leading the way.
In San Juan, the county reported 1.3 percent employment growth between September 2005 and 2004. The primary contributors to the job gains were manufacturing, specifically apparel contractors; private and state education services; and health care.
However, sharp declines in retail trade, local government and recreation due to the continuing problems at Lake Powell kept employment from growing at a faster rate.
San Juan County posted a 20.8 percent year-over increase in gross taxable sales in third quarter 2005. Retail and wholesale trade sales, coupled with rising purchases of business capital for manufacturing, made up 71 percent of the total increase, concluded the department of workforce services.