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Front Page » June 20, 2006 » Local News » Carbon County reports expanding labor market
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Carbon County reports expanding labor market

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Carbon County continued to experience expanding employment levels in May.

The latest data compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Services indicate that Carbon's job growth rate registered at 7.6 percent last month.

Carbon's economy generated 9,676 non-farm salary or wage positions in the local labor market in May 2006, compared to the 8,990 jobs reported by the county in May 2005.

At the state level, Utah's number of non-farm wage and salaried jobs registered a year-over increase of 4.5 percent for May 2006.

Approximately 51,700 jobs have developed in the economy statewide during the last year, raising total wage and salary employment in Utah to 1,191,200.

The rate of job growth keeps Utah within the top five states nationwide for employment expansion, pointed out the department of workforce services. The last time Utah experienced an employment growth rate in the mid 4 percent range was in early 1997.

Utah's second primary indicator of current market conditions, the unemployment rate, registered 3.5 percent in May, down 0.9 percentage points from the unemployment rate of 4.4 percent registered last year.

Approximately 45,800 Utahns were unemployed in May 2006 as compared to 55,100 in May 2005.

"There is no other way to say it - Utah's economy is booming," commented Mark Knold, DWS economist. "The twin indicators of high employment growth and low unemployment signal an economy running on all cylinders."

"How long does this last? Utah's internal fundamentals are such that it could be a multi-year run, "noted Knold. "From the current perspective, the risk of a slowdown is not so much a faltering in consumer demand or business investments. Instead, a lack of skilled workers is the economy's biggest hurdle right now."

At the national level, the United States economy has added 1.9 million jobs since May 2005 for a growth rate of 1.4 percent.

The approximately 51,700 employment opportunities added in Utah represent a growth rate of 4.5 percent. The state's employment expansion represents about 2.7 percent of all the jobs added in the U.S. during the last year.

The nation's unemployment rate registered at 4.6 percent in May.

At the state level, all employment sectors in Utah continued to add jobs, explained the department of workforce services.

In addition to the growth, none of the sectors are showing any signs of weakening.

The employment expansion ranges from a high of 11,800 jobs in the past year in the construction sector to 800 positions in the small category labeled "other services."

Professional and business services added 11,600 employment opportunities during the last 12 months.

Combined with the construction industry, the two sectors account for nearly half of the jobs created in Utah from May 2005 to May 2006.

The rate of construction growth is remarkable in Utah. The 11,800 new jobs represent a 14.6 percent increase over last year, noted Knold..

Consistently high construction employment growth rates at locations throughout Utah are not uncommon.

In the early to mid 1990s, Utah's construction industry consistently reported labor market expansion levels of 14.6 percent or higher.

Although there will be ebbs and flows in the industry, Utah's internal demographic composition suggests that construction will remain strong.

The children of Utah's baby boomers are the largest population group in the state, continued the department of workforce services economist.

Ranging from 20 to 35 years of age, the echo boomers are forming families and households.

In turn, the activity will continue to put a high demand on housing construction in Utah. A second straight decade of continued domestic and international in-migration into the state will increase the demand on housing.

The other strong pillar of the Utah economy is the 8 percent employment growth in the professional and business services sector that added 11,600 new jobs.

The strength behind the number is that half of the jobs are in the higher paying professional, scientific and technical services.

Trade, transportation and utilities added 7,600 employment opportunities to the Utah economy during the last year.

The expansion in employment opportunities in the sector represented a statewide growth rate of 3.4 percent.

The trade aspect of the industry represents the most direct avenue and conduit with consumer spending.

When people buy consumer goods, in most cases, the purchases are made through retail outlets, pointed out Knold.

Therefore, the trade aspect is population-sensitive. Trade primarily grows in direct response to population expansion.

Government continued to be a significant employment sector in Utah. But government is currently the slowest growing sector in the state.

In the 12-month period between May 2005 and May 2006, government created 2,800 jobs for a growth rate of 1.4 percent.

Government is classified into three groups - federal, state and local, explained the department of workforce services.

Federal employment is not reactive to Utah's population size. However, state and local governments are.

As population increases, the growth produces an increased demand for government services, particularly within the education system, noted the department of workforce services.

Since 2000, Utah's population has grown by more than 13 percent.

Correspondingly, combined state and local government employment has grown by 10 percent since 2000.

Government growth lagging behind population expansion suggests increased use of technologies and resulting efficiencies within Utah's public structure, concluded the department of workforce services.

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