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Ecomonic year of 2003 was not good for Carbon County area


Carbon County's economy continued to decline throughout 2003.

In third quarter 2003, total nonfarm jobs fell 3.9 percent in Carbon County, indicates the latest report compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

The recession has taken a toll on the local goods producing industries, pointed out DWS regional economist Austin Sargent in the recently released report. Goods production employment decreased by 163 positions.

In addition, jobs in the local mining industry dropped by nearly 30 as coal as well as oil and gas extraction reported fewer workers.

The jobs losses in Carbon's mining sector are due to the completion of gas exploration projects and cut backs at coal mines, noted the regional economist.

The local construction industry lost approximately 50 jobs. Waning heavy construction projects, particularly developments associated with pipelines, contributed significantly to the employment decreases in the sector, indicated the department of workforce services economist. However, special trade and building contractors posted slight job gains.

Hit hardest by the national recession, employment in Carbon County's manufacturing industry dropped by nearly 90 jobs. Wood products, printing and fabricated metals posted the majority of the job losses.

The local service producing industries did not fair much better, losing around 180 jobs in third quarter 2003. The leisure and hospitality industry lost the most jobs as lodging and food services employment declined.

Retail trade jobs, particularly for building and garden stores and at gas stations, also dropped. Also showing jobs losses were healthcare, social services, and professional and business services.

The healthcare job losses are worrisome since this industry has been one of the few to show consistent growth both nationally and at the state level. Carbon County lost health jobs at hospitals and care facilities.

Government also experienced job losses as local education jobs fell. Only financial activities and information industries eked out slight job gains.

Construction activity, as measured by permit authorizations declined in the third quarter of 2003, with the total valuation of construction dropping 35 percent.

Total housing starts fell by 19 percent. However, the valuation for new residential buildings rose 4.3 percent. Nonresidential building-permiting saw sharp declines, reflecting the lack of major commercial projects, but residential renovations activity increased. These gains were offset by a sharp drop in nonresidential renovations.

Gross taxable sales declined 11.8 percent in the third quarter of 2003. Mining sales dropped 64 percent, while sales for construction, transportation, manufacturing, electric, and gas also tumbled. Retail sales, which account for around 50 percent of total sales, declined a slight 1.7 percent as sales fell at food and building and garden stores. Retail sales for general merchandise stores rose slightly. Services sales dropped by nearly 10 percent as repair and business services and lodging sales slumped.

The economic outlook remains weak for Carbon County. Little population growth combined with a listless mining industry means that the overall local economy will struggle and will stay so until demand increases.





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