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Front Page » September 26, 2006 » Local News » Carbon's economy creates climbing employment rate
Published 3,295 days ago

Carbon's economy creates climbing employment rate

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Carbon County's economy continued to create an expanding labor market in August.

The latest data compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Services indicate that the county witnessed slightly climbing employment levels between July and August, with 9,372 and 9,470 jobs respectively.

But Carbon County registered a 7.6 percent employment expansion rate compared to August 2005, when 8,798 residents occupied positions in the local labor market.

At the state level, Utah's number of non-farm wage and salaried jobs registered a 4.4 percent increase in August. The state's economy created approximately 50,400 employment positions in the last year, raising total wage and salary jobs in Utah to 1,202,000.

Utah's second primary indicator of labor market conditions, the statewide unemployment rate, registered at 3.2 percent in August, down 4.1 percent from 2005's jobless level. Approximately 42,500 Utahns were unemployed last month compared to 51,700 in August 2005.

"The tightening labor supply is apparently beginning to restrict Utah's economic expansion," noted Mark Knold, department of workforce services economist. "Unemployment in the low 3 percent range represents a fully employed labor force. Additional workers come from either non-participants entering or returning to the labor force or a steady inflow of migrating workers. It seems that the Utah economy is experiencing a slight labor force bottleneck."

At the national level, the United States' unemployment rate dipped slightly to 4.7 percent last month. Since August 2005, the U.S. economy has added 1.7 million jobs for a growth rate of 1.3 percent.

The approximately 50,400 employment opportunities in Utah represent a growth rate of 4.4 percent and accounts for about 3.0 percent of all jobs added nationwide in the last year.

All employment sectors in Utah continue to add positions in the state's labor market. Construction and the mining of natural resources are booming, with employment gains measuring at 14.9 percent and 17.6 percent respectively.

Rarely have the two industries witnessed activity as robust as the current environment, explained the workforce services economist.

Labor is a vital input for the state's construction and mining sectors. Officials from the industries continue to indicate an ongoing need for workers. Yet the sizzling growth rates show that, despite the tight labor situation, companies are managing to find workers to meet the majority of construction and mining employment needs.

Approximately 13,000 positions were added in the construction sector between August 2005 and August 2006. Construction growth is pervasive throughout the state in both residential and non-residential activities.

One sector appears to be the sole influence for the slight slowing in the Utah economy - professional and business services, according to the department of workforce services. The decrease appears to be primarily in the employment services component of the industry, represented mainly by firms that supply temporary workers to businesses. Observing the sector is one of the best barometers for gauging the onset and development of tightening labor markets that can stifle rapidly growing economies, pointed out the DWS economist.

Manufacturing in Utah is bucking the national trend for declining employment levels. Manufacturing payrolls have increased by 3,800 jobs statewide for a growth rate of 3.2 percent in the last 12 months. Nationally, manufacturing employment has fallen by 0.5 percent.

One factor influencing the manufacturing activity dynamic in Utah is the industry's existing base. Manufacturing in Utah is not dominated by several declining industries like motor vehicles and parts or textiles.

A second factor is the growing population base in Utah and the western U.S.

Eastern-based manufacturing firms generally consider the country as a whole and identify the strongest growth market for the companies' products.

The firms tend to relocate or establish a satellite manufacturing sites in the west to be closer to the growing markets.

If a firm is large enough, the company's expansion may result in suppliers building plants in the west to remain close and responsive to the manufacturing customer, conclude the department of workforce services economist.

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