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Carbon's economy registers negative employment growth

Carbon County continued to experience negative employment growth in November.

The latest data compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Services indicate that the total number of local labor market positions dipped to 9,533 compared to the 9,701 jobs reported by the county in November 2006.

The decrease in employment opportunities translated into a - 1.7 percent job growth rate for Carbon County last month.

At the state level, Utah's number of non-farm wage and salaried jobs showed a slight acceleration to place employment growth since last November at 4 percent statewide, noted department of workforce services economist Mark Knold.

The November employment expansion rate exceeded the state's long-term average of 3.3 percent per year since 1950.

Approximately 48,900 job opportunities have been created in the Utah economy during the last year, raising total wage and salary employment to 1,283,100 statewide.

Utah's second primary indicator of labor market conditions, the unemployment rate, measured at 2.8 percent last month to surpass the 2.6 percent jobless figure posted statewide in November 2006.

Approximately 38,300 Utahns were unemployed in November 2007 compared to 34,500 in 2006.

"Utah's economy is starting to lose its head of steam at a more rapid pace. This is an event that we have been anticipating for over a year now so it's not a cause for alarm," commented Knold.

"Utah's heady economic growth pace of the past three years is something history shows cannot be indefinitely sustained. We were able to maintain high growth over the past three years because there were no economic negatives that arose. But one is finally arising - new home construction. It has slowed rapidly slowed rapidly and is taking the edge off the construction industry, which had been the far-and-away industry growth leader of the past three years," pointed out Knold. "Non-residential construction is still going strong. But even with that, we anticipate that construction employment growth will taper throughout 2008, possibly to the point of just breaking even by this time next year. By tapering back the construction industry, overall Utah employment growth could be down by a full percentage point or more by this time next year."

All but one of Utah's industrial sector showed year-over employment growth in November. The exception was the information sector.

The trade, transportation, utilities sector led the state's job creation, adding 11,400 positions in the past year, according to the department of workforce services.

The pace of job creation also increased in the leisure and hospitality industry along with government. Job creation in all remaining sectors, except manufacturing, decelerated.

Manufacturing employment growth remained steady last month.

"It seems inevitable that construction employment growth will slow with the negative news surrounding the national housing market starting to influence the Utah housing market psychology. There are differing opinions as to how this will affect Utah's construction industry, with ranges from from those of little change - believing the non-residential boom will buoy the industry - to those who see the industry in a complete collapse in 2008," explained Knold. "The reality will probably be something that settles in between."

At the national level, the United States' unemployment rate did not change last month, but remained at 4.7 percent.

Since November 2006, the U.S. economy has added 1.4 million employment opportunities for a growth rate of 1 percent nationwide.

The approximately 48,900 labor market positions created in Utah represent about 3.5 percent of all jobs added across the U.S. in the last year, pointed out the department of workforce services economist.

Utah comprises less than 1 percent of the nation's labor force.

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