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Front Page » November 14, 2006 » Local News » Utah's economy continues to expand, but labor shortages r...
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Utah's economy continues to expand, but labor shortages reported statewide


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Utah's economy continues to post some of the strongest growth in the state's history.

Utah added 50,400 jobs during the latest 12-month period, representing an expansion rate of 4.4 percent.

But the employment growth rate is down from the 4.9 percent annualized peak reported statewide in June.

All of Utah's 11 major sectors added employment opportunities, led by gains in construction, professional and business services, natural resources, education and health care, and manufacturing.

Job gains in a state or community are primarily driven by the demand for workers, pointed out the latest Insight report compiled by economic consultant Jeff Thredgold and published by Zions Bank.

However, the supply of available labor can influence overall employment gains.

In Utah's case, job growth has slowed modestly in recent months as fewer potential workers are available, explained Thredgold.

Utah's unemployment rate averaged 3.2 percent during the last three month and registers at 3.5 percent to date in 2006.

Only three states currently have a lower jobless rate than Utah.

The demand for workers remains high due to the fact that an adequate supply is not available, noted the economic consultant.

Tight labor availability remains a major issue despite the strong level of net in-migration from around the country.

Labor shortages are most pronounced in the state's transportation, construction, education and health care sectors.

The forecast of slowing job growth in 2007 is tied primarily to the shortage of available labor, indicated the economic consultant.

The Utah economy is likely to slow next year as tight labor markets limit employment growth statewide, predicted Thredgold.

However, the economic consultant expected Utah to continue to rank among the top 10 states in job gains.

The residential real estate market is strong, with solid price appreciation likely to continue in 2007.

The state's overall outlook remains very favorable, added the economic consultant.

According to Thredgold, highlights for Utah's economic outlook include:

•In 2006, Utah's net in-migration will likely to approach the record level posted in 2005.

Last year, Utah reported a net increase of nearly 41,000 residents marked the largest statewide influx experienced in 60 years.

Net in-migration is the difference between people moving into Utah versus residents moving out of the state

•Utah offers a relatively low cost of doing business as well as a more affordable cost of living.

The August 2006 Utah "cost of doing business" estimate of Economy.com was 94 percent of the United States' average.

•The average Utah home value rose 15.17 percent during the 12 month period ending June 30.

The average home value ranked Utah at 10th place of the 50 states.

In contrast, Utah was the nation's weakest home price appreciation market in 2003. The statewide five-year increase was 33.39 percent, suggesting additional potential for growth in 2007.



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