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U.S. economic struggle impacting county, state

The United States economy's struggle to deal with a prolonged series of problems continues to impact not only Utah, but Carbon County.

The falling home values, unsold inventories, mortgage foreclosures and tight credit conditions associated with the ongoing housing and construction bust have resulted in severe strains on the nation's financial system, indicates Utah Department of Workforce Services economist Jim Robson.

"Manufacturing employment continues to hemorrhage as the multi-year jobs losses - 26 consecutive months of declining employment - mount. In addition, the consumer has been battered with high energy and food prices that have eroded purchasing power," pointed out the DWS economist in the latest Trendlines report compiled by the state agency. "Eight consecutive monthly non-farm payroll jobs losses, totaling 605,000 since December 2007, are pressuring income growth."

But with a deteriorating labor market, the nation's unemployment rate crossed a new threshold in August, reaching 6.1 percent for the highest level posted nationwide since September 2003.

The U.S. jobless rate reached the lowest point in the current expansion in October 2006, registering at 4.4 percent - a level generally considered as "full employment" by many economists and analysts, continued Robson.

By comparison, the U.S. jobless rate remained relatively favorable at 4.7 percent one year ago.

In August 2008, an estimated 9,479,000 unemployed Americans reported having actively looked unsuccessfully for job during the prior month. The number represents an increase of 2,391,000 jobless workers or 33.7 percent more than the 7,088,000 unemployed Americans seeking labor market positions in August 2007.

As classified by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are six different reasons or types of unemployment for people who are seeking job without current work.

The top two reasons for unemployment are re-entrants and workers who have suffered permanent job loss.

Re-entrants are defined as individuals who are looking for employment after not choosing not to work for pay for a period of time.

Combined, the two types of unemployment account for almost 57 percent of jobless Americans.

The remaining reasons for unemployment include employees who:

•Were placed on temporary lay-off for lack of work and expect to be called back to their jobs.

•Decided to leave jobs.

•Completed temporary jobs.

•Are attempting to enter the workforce, usually young persons seeking employment for the first time.

Increasing slack in the labor market is measured in other ways besides unemployment.'

For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks discouraged workers - people who want jobs, but have quit looking due to the perceived lack of available labor market positions. The number of discouraged American workers measured at 381,000 in August.

In addition, American workers employed part-time while seeking full-time positions in the nation's labor force totaled 5.7 million in August.

The labor statistics bureau classifies the workers in question as "part-time for economic reasons."

"As 2008 comes to an end, all of the factors that are weighing negatively on the U.S. labor market seem to be continuing. The serious stresses on consumer and business spending, coupled with a severely strained financial system, suggest that further labor market deterioration should be expected," concluded the Utah Department of Workforce Services economist.

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