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Carbon's economy generates moderately expanding employment from 1985 to 2005

Carbon County's economy sustained a moderate employment expansion level during the 20-year period between 1985 and 2005.

However, the latest finalized data compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Services indicates that Carbon's 20 percent employment growth level ranked near the bottom of the non-farm job creation rates reported by the state's 29 counties from 1985 to 2005.

Nevertheless, Carbon's moderate employment expansion outpaced neighboring Emery County during the 20-year period. Emery County posted a negative 1 percent job growth rate from 1985 to 2005.

Millard County finished at the bottom of the list with a negative 32 percent job growth rate, while Washington County topped the statewide rankings with a 405 percent employment expansion level.

"As an old year ends and a new one begins, the natural inclination to review the past nudges at our psyche. So let's give into the urge. But, in this case, let's look back - way back - to discover which counties have experienced the strongest economic growth over the past 20 years," commented DWS economist Lecia Langston in the state agency's January-February 2007 Trendlines report.

Job growth represents one of the best available measure of a county's economic well-being, pointed out Langston. The concurrent indicator tracks closely with cycles of boom and bust or expansion and recession, providing some of the most accurate data.

"Remember 1985? The first Ford Taurus rolled off the assembly line, Ronald Reagan was president and U.S. unemployment registered above 7 percent," commented the DWS economist. "To put the county numbers in perspective, what happened statewide and nationally?"

In Utah between 1985 and 2005, jobs increased statewide by 84 percent or more than twice the rate of the national 37 percent employment expansion rate.

Overall, the four main Wasatch Front counties - Salt Lake, Davis, Weber and Utah - showed slower than average job growth at 80 percent.

On the other hand, the remaining counties off the Wasatch Front experienced 99 percent employment expansion during the 20-year period in question.

As with most indicators, areas located outside the Wasatch Front corridor displayed a wide array of economic performance, noted Langston.

However, the counties experienced the most rapid employment expansion rates were located outside the state's major metropolitan areas.

Red-hot growth in Washington's rapid growth is illustrated by the fact that, between 1985 and 2005, the number of jobs tupled with an increase of more than 400 percent.

Two southwestern counties - Iron and Kane - placed among the top five fastest growing employment areas in Utah. Summit and Wasatch - rounded out the top five.

Roughly, one-third of Utah's counties at least doubled the number of employment opportunities from 1985 to 2005, explained the DWS economist.

On the opposite end of the economic spectrum, Millard and Emery counties' employment measures at lower levels than 20 years ago.

In the case of Millard, Intermountain Power Plant construction produced a temporary swell in the base year.

Emery County's employment registered a slight decline during the 20-year period.

In addition to Carbon, slower growing Utah counties during the designated 20-year period included San Juan, Beaver, Duchesne and Tooele.

"However, remember that these numbers cover two decades. Several of these counties are currently experiencing rapid expansion. For example, Duchesne County's current job growth rate registers in the double-digit range," concluded Langston.

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