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County experiences declining joblessness

Carbon County's unemployment rate continues to fluctuate.

The local jobless rate dropped to 6.2 percent in August after registering at 6.8 percent in July 2004.

By comparison, Carbon County reported a 7.9 percent unemployment rate in August 2003, indicates the latest data compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

While Carbon experienced declining joblessness last month, Emery County experienced increasing unemployment.

Emery's jobless rate climbed to 8.8 percent in August after registering at 8 percent in July 2004.

In August 2003, Emery posted an 11.2 percent unemployment rate.

At the state level, Utah's unemployment rate for August registered at 4.8 percent, unchanged from July's figure.

Approximately 57,800 Utahns were unemployed in August 2004. Last year, 65,600 state residents were unemployed when the jobless rate stood at 5.5 percent.

Utah's second primary indicator of labor market conditions, the year-over change in the number of non-farm wage and salaried jobs is rising at a relatively rapid pace.

The latest available information shows Utah is experiencing a more vibrant economy than previously reported. Employment growth currently registers at 2.5 percent statewide.

"Revisions to our second quarter data show an unexpected, but very welcome rapid increase in Utah's employment count," pointed out Raylene Ireland, department of workforce services director. "Job growth is currently robust in the state of Utah, much stronger than was previously reported. A vibrant construction industry is one of the pleasant surprise areas."

Since last August, the United States economy has added 1.7 million new jobs for a growth rate of 1.3 percent nationwide. The Utah economy has added more than 26,500 employment opportunities for an expansion rate of 2.5 percent.

The Utah additions represent about 1.5 percent of all the new jobs created across the U.S. Utah's expanding labor force is encouraging, but the quality and diversity of the growth represents an added bonus.

"As more data is gathered after the fact, we now see that the Utah economy added jobs at a much stronger pace than previously reported," explained Mark Knold, workforce services economist. "Surveying techniques sometimes don't fully catch rapid rises in an economy's economic performance, especially when the preceding three years have been years of job loss. Upswings out of prolonged economic downturns are not necessarily hard to predict. It's the pace of expansion that usually throws the analyst off. Until more substantial data supports a rapid rise, analysts are tentative to forecast rapid growth, especially since this Utah economic performance is running well above the national upturn. I anticipate that even this August rate of 2.5 percent will be revised upward."

"I am still concerned though, about high oil costs having their negative effect and dampening the Utah expansion. Hopefully, the ongoing economic growth has enough steam to plow onward through this potential hurdle," continued Knold.

Many Utah industries are adding employment positions, with only the financial sector and the federal government shedding jobs. A variety of occupations are being advanced, from low-paying jobs to high-paying jobs positions.

After being lethargic during the past three years, Utah's construction industry bounced back with a vengeance in summer 2004. Construction's current employment expansion rate is 5.4 percent, with more than 4,000 jobs developed in the last year.

Professional and business services represent a second vibrant area in the state's economy. The sector has added the most workers, offering 6,800 more jobs than last year. A fair number of quality jobs populate professional and business services, positions requiring educational backgrounds. The sector also includes temporary help and call centers, two rapidly growing areas.

Utah's trade industry has also come to life in 2004. Having contracted for the last three years, the sector appears to be rebounding. Retail trade has expanded by 2,700 positions statewide.

Utah's health care industry continues to create employment opportunities. Approximately 3,700 jobs have developed in the sector within the past year.

In addition, the state's leisure and hospitality industry along with the manufacturing sector have started entering into a recovery mode.

Utah's hospitality businesses have developed about 2,300 new jobs in the past year. The manufacturing sector is enjoying an upswing, adding 1,600 employment positions.

"A falling dollar against foreign currencies makes our manufactured goods more affordable on the world market and also the general strength of the national economy is spurring pent-up orders for manufactured goods," concluded the department of workforce services economist.

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