Relatively steady job growth and rising real estate values continued to contribute to fewer filings for bankruptcy protection during the first six months of 2005.
The downward trend in filings by Carbon County residents and Utahns at locations across the state has continued since 2003.
According to the United States Bankruptcy Court for Utah, 10,295 requests for protection were filed from Jan. 1 through June 30.
The total represents a 3 percent drop from 10,591 filings made in the first six months of 2004.
Last month, 1,684 filings for bankruptcy protection were recorded by the federal court for Utah, for a 5 percent drop compared to June 2004.
The state's economy is pressing forward despite multiple "headwinds," pointed out the latest Trendlines report released by the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
Ending July 9, the four-week average of initial unemployment insurance claims filed statewide registered at 1,195. The number represents a decrease of 30 percent from the four-week average of 1,715 reported last year.
The number of all initial claims for unemployment benefits filed during the week totaled 1,342.
Weeks claimed by displaced Utah workers numbered 9,738, decreasing by 17 percent from 11,671 last year.
At the national level, consumer prices held steady in June, but local and national economists warned that energy prices may stay up for the duration of the summer.
U.S. consumer confidence rose to its highest level in a year in early July as gains in the stock market and better hiring conditions offset the drag from record gasoline prices. The University of Michigan said its measure of confidence inched up to 96.5 so far this month from 96.0 in June, according to market sources who saw the subscription-only report. Analysts had been looking for a dip to 95.0.
Producer prices held steady last month despite a big rise in energy costs, as food and vehicle prices plunged, according to a government report that showed an unexpected absence of inflation pressure. Energy prices shot up 2% in June, the Labor Department said, while food prices dropped 1.1%. Outside those volatile areas, so-called core producer prices fell 0.1%, the first decline in four months, as the cost of cars and light trucks plummeted.
Retail sales, pumped up by a spike in purchases of new cars, clothing and other summer merchandise, rebounded strongly in June. The Department of Commerce report said overall sales jumped 1.7 percent last month, compared to a revised 0.3 percent decrease in May. The initial reading for May showed a 0.5 percent decline. Analysts said the stronger-than-expected reading allayed fears, for the time being, that higher gas prices were negatively impacting consumer spending.
The trade deficit showed a slight improvement in May, reflecting a temporary decline in world oil prices. But a continued surge in clothing and textile shipments pushed the deficit with China to the highest level in six months. The Commerce Department reported that America's trade deficit fell 2.7% in May to $55.3 billion, the best showing since March. The bulk of the improvement came from a big drop in oil prices, which pushed petroleum imports down 6.8%. The narrowing trade gap is probably temporary because prices of crude oil have soared to record levels above $60 a barrel since May.
Consumers, showing some caution about piling up new debt, reduced borrowing in May for the first time in 18 months, reported the Federal Reserve. They reduced their borrowing by $3 billion in May from the previous month, a drop of 1.7 percent on an annualized basis. That marked the first decline since November 2003. The decline in new debt in May reflected a pullback in demand for nonrevolving credit, which includes loans for cars, vacation and education. That type of borrowing fell by $3.7 billion in May from the previous month or at a 3.4 percent annual rate.