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Carbon County reports declining unemployment

Carbon County experienced declining unemployment in December.

The local jobless rate dipped to 6.7 percent last month after registering at 7 percent in November.

In December 2002, Carbon County posted an 8 percent unemployment rate.

In neighboring Emery County, the November and December jobless rates remained constant at 10.2 percent.

Emery County reported a 10.1 percent unemployment rate in December 2002.

At the district level, the southeastern region's jobless rate dropped to 7.6 percent last month after registering at 8.6 percent in November.

The southeastern district posted an 8.4 percent unemployment rate in December 2002.

At the state level, Utah's unemployment rate for December registered at 4.7 percent in December, declining from 4.9 percent in November.

Approximately 57,300 Utahns were unemployed in December 2003.

By comparison, 74,000 Utahns were unemployed in December 2002 when the statewide jobless rate stood at 6.3 percent.

"As 2003 progressed, the unemployment rate experienced a modest downward movement, falling by slightly more than half a percentage point," pointed out Mark Knold, department or workforce services senior economist.

"This movement downward is roughly equal to the small movement upward in job creation that we saw develop in the second half of 2003. Looks like a normal and expected correlation at work," continued Knold.

Utah's second primary indicator of current labor market conditions, the year-over change in the number of non-farm wage and salaried employment opportunities, inched up 0.2 percent.

Recent data revisions show that Utah's re-emergence into employment growth started last July.

"We are pleased to see that our earlier forecasts of employment growth starting in the latter half of 2003 have come true," pointed out Raylene Ireland, workforce services director. "We also said that those gains would be modest and far below the pace of gains that we need. Unfortunately, that has also come true."

"We realize, though, that a recovery has to begin somewhere and that momentum takes time to build," noted Ireland.

Revisions to data series are a normal practice as additional information emerges.

Recently released national data indicate that the year-over job count in the United States dropped 0.5 percent in December.

Utah generally enjoys a higher employment growth rate than the nation and the state appears to be moving back to the normal position, explained the department of workforce services.

During the depths of the last recession, Utah's employment count contracted by 1.4 percent, approximately equal to the nation.

But the Utah economy has started adding new jobs at least one-half of a year ahead of gains experienced at the national level. However, only four of Utah's 11 industrial sectors are adding workers.

The strength of the employment expansion in the state's education and health care sector has offset the declines in natural resources, construction, trade and transportation, information and government.

Health care accounted for the majority of the sector's 2,800 job gain. The industry did not slow during Utah's economic downturn.

Utah's professional and business sector has also started hiring workers after shedding jobs during the economic downturn. Many of the employment opportunities in the industry are professional level positions.

Manufacturing continued as the Utah economy's weakest link in December, indicated the department of workforce services.

But the outlook for the manufacturing industry in Utah and across the U.S. is showing several positive signs.

Factory orders have been trending upward in the U.S. Significant excess capacity must be utilized before aggressive hiring re-emerges in the industry, but the employment slide appears to have abated.

A continued decline in the value of the U.S. dollar should boost exports and help the manufacturing industry, concluded the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

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