Carbon County's unemployment rate remained constant in February.
The local jobless rate registered at 7.1 percent in February, up slightly from 7 percent in January. By comparison, Carbon County reported an 8 percent unemployment rate in February 2003.
In neighboring Emery County, the jobless rate decreased from 11.2 percent in January to 9.8 percent in February. Emery County posted an 11.2 unemployment rate in February 2003.
At the region level, the jobless rate stood at 8 percent in February, declining from 8.5 percent in January. In February 2003, southeastern district experienced an 8.8 percent unemployment rate.
At the state level, Utah's February jobless rate registered a 4.8 percent, moving downward from January's 5 percent.
Approximately 57,400 Utahns were unemployed in February 2004. Last year, 69,000 Utahns were unemployed when the statewide jobless rate stood at 5.9 percent.
"Employment growth in Utah has accelerated rapidly within the past three months. One consequence of this is being seen in the unemployment rate trending downward. Further declines can be anticipated if the employment growth rate continues to move upward," explained Mark Knold, department of workforce services senior economist.
Utah's second primary indicator of current labor market conditions, the year-over change in the number of non-farm wage and salaried jobs, continued inching upward and reaching 1.3 percent for 13,600 additional jobs compared to February 2003.
"We are encouraged by the pace of employment growth. Utah finally appears to be snapping out of its multi-year employment slump. There are other parts of the country still waiting for employment growth to emerge. We are grateful that our wait is over," noted Raylene Ireland, workforce services director.
The 1.3 percent employment expansion continues the job growth momentum Utah witnessed gathering in the latter half of 2003.
The pace of job growth is somewhat surprising in that a 1.3 percent rate was not anticipated until later in the year, pointed out the workforce services officials. However, employment expansion may moderate when the ski season concludes.
Utah's employment growth during the last two months is founded in an overall upswing in business. But an extra push appears to be based upon seasonal factors. A good snow year and the fading of the post-911 psychology against travel combined to give the ski economy a boost, indicated workforce services officials. The ski economy includes not only resorts, but lodging, restaurants, rentals, and transportation.
The professional and business services sector represents a second factor influencing Utah's employment expansion. The sector added 3,100 jobs compared against last February. Nearly all of growth occurred in employment services - companies brokering in providing temporary workers to the state's business community. The twofold gain can be attributed to an upswing in demand as well as a noticeable slump last year when the demand for temporary workers fell sharply statewide.
Employment services dropped significantly in January and February 2003, explained the workforce services officials.
The decline did not match the historical pattern of the Utah's industry in the January-February time period.
Last year, the United States had entered into the final stages leading up to the implementation of the Iraq War. A negative business psychology anticipating the military action led an economic contraction, explained workforce services officials.
But last year's anomaly is contributing to what looks like will become a sharp job increase in the state's employment services sector during 2004.
Education and health services remain the state's most dynamic employment sector, adding 4,000 new jobs statewide for a 3.4 percent growth rate. The employment gains are concentrated in health services.
Utah's retail trade industry posted employment growth and added 1,000 jobs statewide in February.
Although modest, the growth represents a marked change from the job contractions reported by retail trade during the last two years.
Retail trade's core is serving the local population and the sector's expansion mode suggests that the correction resulting during employment contraction has run its course. Either population growth has caught up with supply or the retail trade product had contracted to match local needs.
The lack of lost jobs in the manufacturing sector represents an encouraging sign of the state's recovering economy, noted the workforce services officials. Manufacturing has been in a job contraction mode since 1998. Compared with last February, the sector reported 200 fewer jobs.
Utah's manufacturing sector has lost 5,000 positions during the course of the last several years and, for the industry to be approaching a point of employment stability is a welcome sign, concluded the workforce services officials.