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Carbon's unemployment rate stabilizes

A bulldozer pushes coal into piles at the Wild Cat loadout. After more than 100 years, the coal and mining related industries are still one of the mainstays of employment in Carbon County. Department of workforce services data appear to indicate the local jobless rate appears to be stabilizing.

Carbon County's unemployment rate remained constant during the last one-month period, registering at 6.7 percent in December and January.

By comparison, Carbon County experienced 7.6 percent joblessness in January 2003.

In Emery County, joblessness climbed to 11.1 percent in January compared to 10.2 percent unemployment rate. Emery County posted a 12.1 percent jobless rate in January 2003.

At the state level, Utah's unemployment rate registered at 5 percent in January, down a modest three-tenths of a percentage point compared to December's figure.

Approximately 62,600 Utahns were unemployed in January 2004. Last year, 73,200 Utahns were unemployed.

"Job creation is picking up and appears to be gathering steam. This, naturally, would tend to push the unemployment rate downward," noted Mark Knold, Utah Department or Workforce Services economist. "However, we don't anticipate a significant drop in the unemployment rate this year as there is a sizable pool of workers out there who became discouraged and have left the labor market. They may now begin to re-emerge and will be classified as unemployed before they become employed, so they will have the effect of dampening the unemployment rate's movement downward."

Utah's second primary indicator of labor market conditions, the year-over change in the number of non-farm wage and salaried jobs, recorded a 1.1 percent gain compared to January 2003. The gain represented 11,600 positions.

Recent data indicate Utah's re-emergence into employment growth began last July 2003. Growth for fourth quarter 2003 was stronger than initially reported at 0.5 percent.

"Employment growth is finally picking up," pointed out Raylene Ireland, DWS director. "This has been a multi-year economic downturn and a return to employment growth has been too long absent and anxiously anticipated. The time of its reemergence appears to be now."

The majority of industries operating across the state are adding employment positions or no longer losing jobs. Only the manufacturing and information sectors continue to record year-over employment declines. But losses are moderating and trending toward a zero-growth mode.

Education and health services continue to lead Utah's employment expansion, posting 3.2 percent growth in January.

Population growth has not slowed significantly during the recession. The growth may absorb the job overbuilding excesses and lay the foundation for Utah's return to employment expansion, concluded the DWS representatives.

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