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Front Page » August 1, 2006 » Local News » Carbon County reports expanding employment
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Carbon County reports expanding employment


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Carbon County has experienced long periods of economic stagnation in the past, but the local area posted an 8.6 percent employment expansion rate in June.

Carbon's mining, construction, trucking and retail trade sectors accounted for the majority of last month's job growth, indicated the latest data compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

Neighboring Emery and San Juan counties have a history of having less than stellar economies. But employment grew by 9.3 percent and 3.6 percent respectively in the two counties.

In Emery, mining, construction, utility and trucking jobs fueled the county's economy in June.

At the state level, Utah's number of non-farm wage and salaried jobs registered a year-over increase of 4.8 percent in last month.

The Utah economy developed approximately 55,600 jobs during the last year, raising total wage and salary employment to 1,204,500 statewide.

The expansion rate keeps Utah within the top five states nationwide for employment growth, indicated the department of workforce services.

Utah's second primary indicator of labor market conditions, the unemployment rate, registered 3.1 percent in June, down 1.2 points from the 4.3 percent jobless registered in June 2005.

Approximately 40,000 Utahns were unemployed in June 2006 compared to 54,000 in last year.

"Utah's labor market indicators are looking like a repeat of portions of the 1990s. Employment growth is in the high 4 percent range and unemployment is trying to drop below 3 percent. We haven't seen this combination since 1997. Together, they produced an interesting phenomenon," commented Mark Knold, department of workforce services economist.

"Employment growth tapered off in Utah after 1997 while the unemployment rate remained very low for several more years. This suggests that it might be difficult to sustain high employment growth rates in conjunction with an extremely low unemployment rate as we progress forward. Low unemployment rates hint of pressure on the economy through restricted availability of labor. It appears we are doing OK now, but we'll observe if the business community's desire to add future jobs in Utah can be fully met by finding enough workers to fill those slots. The pace of in-migration will probably be the decisive factor," pointed out the DWS economist.

All employment sectors in Utah continued to add employment opportunities last month, ranging from a high of 12,900 positions in the construction sector to 900 jobs in the other services category.

Professional and business services created 12,500 jobs in the last year. In combination with the construction industry, the two sectors accounted for slightly less than one-half of all the jobs developed statewide between June 2005 and June 2006.

Utah's employment growth environment is not only characterized by all the industrial sectors adding new jobs, but all of the state's various geographical regions are also sharing in the economic good times.

Arguably the most robust region in the state right now is the Uintah Basin, energized by its oil and gas industry.

The tri-county Uintah Basin area produced an employment growth rate of 14 percent over the past year. It shouldn't be surprising that the high cost of oil and natural gas has spurred a nationwide increase in the exploration and development of new sources of these energy componentsm, noted Knold.

Uintah and Duchesne counties are seeing a boom that rivals the rapid employment growth that went along with their last energy boom in the 1970s.

Is the area building up for another collapse? Probably not, said Knold. The energy environment has changed much since the 1970s. If tar sand or oil shale development ever comes to fruition, then Uintah County hasn't seen anything yet.

While the growth in the Uintah Basin is driven by the energy boom, and the employment gains are trickling down into other industries as well. Construction jobs are on the rise.

The need to move more goods and raw materials has produced an increase in trucking jobs. Population growth in the area is pushing up retail jobs, and generating more employment in the financial sector due to increased transactions.

Then there is Washington County and the southwest corner of the state. Recently, the St. George area was measured as the country's fastest-growing metropolitan economy, based upon employment growth. A June growth rate of 8.5 percent probably does nothing to drop St. George from that position.

Prosperity is not just limited to Washington County. Iron County to the north, centered around Cedar City, added 7.9 percent more jobs over the past year. And Kane County topped that with a 12 percent year-over employment growth rate.

The mountainous counties of Summit and Wasatch, east of Salt Lake City and Provo, are experiencing high employment growth percentages - measuring at 12.2 and 13.0 percent respectively. Population growth is spurring construction growth in both counties. More people are also supporting additional retail trade outlets.

In Summit County the leisure and hospitality industry is also doing well, with employment gains in both lodging establishments and restaurants.

At the national level, the United States' economy has added 1.8 million new jobs since June 2005 for a growth rate of 1.4 percent.

The approximately 55,600 employment opportunities created in Utah represent about 3.1 percent of all the jobs added nationwide during the past year.

The U.S. unemployment rate registered 4.6 percent in June, concluded the department of workforce services.



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