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Utah unemployment down

Utah's nonfarm wage and salaried job count for September 2012, as generated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), expanded by 2.0 percent compared against the employment level for September 2011. This is a 12-month increase of 24,400 jobs and raises total wage and salary employment to 1,251,600.

The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate-generated by BLS-is Utah's other primary indicator of current labor market conditions and registers 5.4 percent, a noticeable drop from last month's 5.8 percent. Approximately 73,100 Utahns are considered to be actively unemployed. The current United States unemployment rate, as compared to last month, fell three-tenths of a percentage point to 7.8 percent.

As estimated this month, most of Utah's industrial sectors are contributing to job growth, with the two exceptions being leisure and hospitality, and government. Professional and business services stands heads-and-tails beyond all other industries by adding 11,400 jobs over the past 12 months. The next highest accumulation is in financial activities at 2,600. Over half of all Utah job growth is occurring in professional and business services.

Utah's unemployment rate dropped four-tenths of a percentage point this month, moving to 5.4 percent. This is influenced by the three-tenths of a percentage point drop at the national level, as all state unemployment rates key off the national profile. The unemployment rate and the employment growth estimates are derived from two separate surveys. They have disagreed at times in the past. Future revisions to the data generally bring the two series into alignment. With additional information now available through March 2012, it is known the employment growth estimates will be moved higher when the data series is revised at the beginning of 2013.

Natural resources and mining remain one of Utah's strongest growth sectors with employment gains over-the-year of 5.8 percent, or 700 jobs. Half of this originated in the Uintah Basin, the other half largely developed in Salt Lake County.

Construction employment is growing in response to an improving housing environment in Utah. While the housing environment still has a sizeable way to go toward recovery, prices are starting to rise, home building permits are up, and traffic and sales are on the rise. This is translating into more homes being built, and thus an increase in construction jobs tied to home building.

Service Producing

Utah's largest employment sector is Trade, Transportation, and Utilities. Estimated employment gains of 2,300 over the past 12 months is a growth rate of 1.0 percent.

The Professional and Business Services sector added the most new jobs in Utah over the past year at 11,400. Half is coming from the professional, scientific, and technical side, which is an area that generally requires greater levels of education for employment and also returns higher-than-average wages. These include accounting, engineering, design services, computer systems design, and consulting services, among others. The remainder is coming from an assortment of services such as security, landscaping, janitorial, building maintenance, and waste management.

Industrial designations are presented regularly in this brief as generated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics using standard North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) industries and groupings. It is possible to create non-standard industrial groups by re-arranging NAICS code classifications. Hybrid industries can be assembled and have gained usage, but have not become standard groupings due to non-uniformity of definition and also overlapping with the standard NAICS designations.

Life Science industries are an assemblage of medical manufacturing and laboratories, research and development industries, biotechnology, and environmental services. In Utah this designation employs around 26,400 workers and makes up about 2.1 percent of all Utah employment. This was an industry that did not swoon during the recent recession-in fact it grew at a roughly 3.0-percent yearly pace from 2009 through early 2011. The industry is still growing in Utah, but recent employment gains have tempered somewhat, to around 1.5 to 2.0 percent.

Information Technology is a larger and more robust cluster in Utah. Its employment of roughly 48,300 is closer to 4.0 percent of total Utah employment. And it has been growing around 7.0 percent over the past half year. Gains are seen in software publishing, computer programming, and internet shopping, among others.

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