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Carbon records job growth while unemployment rate dips statewide

Carbon County recorded a 2.2 percent employment expansion rate in May.

Last month, 8,782 Carbon residents occupied positions in the county's non-farm labor force.

By comparison, 8,594 and 8,665 Carbon County residents were employed in May 2004 and March 2005 respectively.

At the state level, Utah's unemployment rate for May registered at 4.9 percent in May. Joblessness dipped 0.4 percentage points statewide from the 5.3 percent unemployment rate registered last year.

Approximately 60,700 residents were unemployed at locations across the state in May 2005 as compared to 63,300 in 2004, according to the latest data compiled by the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

Utah's second primary indicator of labor market conditions, the year-over change in the non-farm wage and salaried jobs, continued to show a trend toward slightly lower growth rates than recorded in first quarter 2005.

In May, Utah registered a year-over growth rate of 3.4 percent.

"Utah's economic environment continues as one of the best in the nation," pointed out Mark Knold, department of workforce services senior economist. "Over the past year, the Utah economy has generated around 37,000 new jobs. Many of these are in industrial sectors that pay higher than the Utah average wage for all industries."

"The higher paying jobs are largely the ones that declined during the recession of several years ago so we are quite encouraged at seeing these higher paying jobs making a comeback," continued the DWS economist.

Since May 2004, the United States economy added two million jobs nationwide for a growth rate of 1.5 percent.

Utah's economy created approximately 37,000 positions in the state's labor market for an employment expansion rate of 3.4 percent.

The Utah additions represent approximately 1.9 percent of all the jobs created in the United States during the last year.

All industrial sectors in Utah continue to contribute to the new job count. Professional and business services stands out by adding the most new jobs. Here, 7,600 new positions have developed over the past year. As a whole, this sector pays about 14 percent higher than the average Utah wage. This sector's pay would be even higher if we weed out the employment services, like placement agencies, temporary help centers and business services. Those sectors account for around 2,900 of the 7,600 new jobs developed. The remaining 4,700 come from the higher paying portions of the classification like professional, scientific and technical services. These are knowledge-based, education-based, high-paying service jobs. That portion measures average wages around 55 percent higher than the overall Utah average.

Construction is another hot job growth area. Gains of around 6,800 new jobs over the past year signal a very vibrant and expansive sector, driven by a vibrant and expansive economy. This is not only coming from high levels of housing construction, but also a significant volume of commercial activity as well. The latter is a telling indicator of the amount of investment that businesses are pouring into the Utah economy. This signals a positive long-term outlook for the Utah economy in the business community's mind. One of the great values coming out of the construction industry is that workers have the opportunity to possibly own their own business as they learn a skill. This can result in a significant boost in income. More and more within our economy, it takes high levels of education to attain high levels of pay. But the construction industry is one that offers a way around that education factor, which to some people might be a hurdle. The construction industry can offer people with limited education but advanced skill development an environment through which to earn a high income.

Over the past year, around 6,000 new jobs were added within the trade, transportation, and utilities sector. This sector is heavily dominated by the trade portion (80 percent), comprised of wholesale and retail. The wholesale trade side is one of the better-paying sectors in the state, but it makes up just one-quarter of the total trade component. Retail trade is the largest segment, and it is generally characterized with modest wage rates. Yet, it is an important job provider within the state. The fact that this is one of the larger employment sectors and that these jobs get filled is a signal that these jobs have value within the economy.

Knold commented about the retail trade sector, "Oftentimes, this industry is looked upon with a negative stigma. The average wage calculations show this to be a low-paying industry, but those wages are understated because of the large amount of part-time employment inherent in this industry. Therefore, when we make the average wage calculation, the large volume of part-time employment pulls that wage calculation down. Still, if we look at just occupational pay rates, we see that sales clerks and retail sales people aren't paid particularly high wages. But we have to understand that these jobs do have value in the economy. If they didn't, they wouldn't get filled.

Utah has the nation's youngest population. We have more workers, per capita, in the lowest age cohorts of the labor force than any other state. Quantifying this phenomenon, Utah's percentage of the total labor force that is 16 to 34 years old is 47 percent. The national average for that same age group is 26 percent. No other state is even in the 40 percent range. We all know from experience that young workers are not high wage earners. Higher wages generally come with age and experience. If we have a population heavy in the young cohorts, that often want flexibility and part-time employment to accommodate a higher-education schedule, then these retail jobs have much more value to the labor force than the low-wage profile might imply. The market is actually accommodating, or adjusting to, the composition of the labor force."

The remainder of the industrial sectors are adding new Utah jobs at varying levels.

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