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Jobless rate drops in Carbon County

Sun Advocate reporter

Carbon County's unemployment rate dropped by more than one-half of a percentage point in October.

The local jobless rate registered at 5.6 percent last month, down from 6.3 percent in September 2004.

By comparison, Carbon County experienced a 7.4 percent unemployment in October 2003.

In neighboring Emery County, joblessness climbed to 8.7 percent in October from the 8.1 percent rate posted in September 2004.

Emery County reported a 10.8 percent unemployment rate in October 2003.

At the state level, Utah's jobless rate registered at 4.8 percent in October, up slightly from 4.6 percent in September.

Approximately 58,100 Utahns were unemployed in October 2004. Last October, 64,100 Utahns were unemployed when the jobless rate stood at 5.4 percent.

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 to expand at a healthy 3 percent rate.

The statewide employment expansion rate is down slightly from September's revised 3.1 percent.

"October's employment growth rate bodes well for Utah. However, our expansion beginning in the latter half of 2003 and gaining momentum throughout 2004 may be tempering, at least in the immediate realm. October's growth rate is slightly below September's, suggesting that moderating forces may now be influencing the Utah economy." noted Raylene Ireland, department of workforce services director.

All industrial sectors in Utah continued to grow - some at a vigorous rate and others at a more subdued pace, according to the workforce services department.

But growth in all industrial sectors suggests that occupational creation is occurring across the entire income spectrum - low, medium, and high wage.

"October's growth rate of 3 percent is very welcome. We need this level of employment growth in Utah, as a minimum," pointed out Mark Knold, senior economist for the department of workforce services. "But October's level being roughly even with September's suggests that our growth momentum could be moderating. This shouldn't come as a surprise though, considering two factors. One, current high oil prices. Even though the prices at the pump haven't been exceptionally high, they are higher than at the beginning of the year. High oil prices develop a psychology with the consumers, making them more cautious in their spending. Second, to gauge employment growth, we make a year-over comparison. We compare this October against last October. As the economy started gaining strength in the latter half of last year, we are now comparing back against a stronger economic period than existed in the early months of 2003. Therefore, we would expect the employment growth numbers to moderate or level off as we compare back against a stronger economic period."

Since last October, the United States economy added 2.1 million jobs nationwide, representing a growth rate of 1.6 percent. The Utah economy expanded by approximately 32,200 employment opportunities for a growth rate of 3 percent. The Utah additions represent about 1.5 percent of all the jobs added throughout the U.S. during the last year.

The largest amount of employment growth is occurring in the state's professional and business services sector. The sector is one of Utah's larger employment groups, with roughly 143,500 workers. In the last year, the state experienced an expansion of around 4,600 new professional and business services jobs, for a growth rate of 5.6 percent. The sector covers a broad spectrum of employment opportunities, ranging from high paying professional positions like lawyers, engineers, architects graphic and industrial designers to moderate to lower paying temporary help and telemarketing jobs.

Utah's largest industrial sector is trade, transportation and utilities. The sector employs around 221,200 workers and recorded the second largest expansion rate, creating approximately 5,500 positions statewide for 2.5 percent growth.

The trade component dominates the sector, accounting for about 80 percent of the employment opportunities across Utah. The majority of the growth occurred on the trade side with around 4,000 new jobs. The transportation component added approximately 1,500 positions, many in the trucking industry.

Education and health care pressed on as a vibrant sector of Utah's economy. Consisting of approximately 125,900 workers, education and health care represented about 11 percent of the Utah economy. During the last year, the sector added around 4,500 workers to the employment base, for a growth rate of 3.7 percent. Driven primarily by the health care side, the industry never slowed down during the recent recession and continues to press forward.

Construction represents a major component of the expansion. Construction acts as a barometer industry and responds to the economy. With the addition of around 4,200 year-over employment opportunities and a growth rate of 5.9 percent, the sector's response signals a strong Utah economy.

Manufacturing experienced a five-year funk and, even when the Utah economy was booming in the late 1990s, the industry suffered contraction and job losses. The hemorrhaging stopped in the early part of 2004 and the industry is currently expanding at a 2.2 percent growth rate and the addition of around 2,500 jobs since last year, indicated the Utah Department of Workforce Services. Many of the employment opportunities are in heavy industry, like metal fabrication and transportation equipment.

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