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Employment expansion rate starting to level off at locations throughout Utah

Utah's employment growth is leveling off as companies are encountering difficulty in filling available positions at locations across the state.

Utah added 50,400 jobs in the year ending Aug. 31, representing a statewide employment expansion rate of 4.4 percent.

The state continues to rank among the top five nationally in job creation, but the Utah Department of Workforce Services notes that employment growth dipped from July's 4.7 percent and dropped from a peak of 4.9 percent in June.

Economists indicate that Utah was already feeling the effects of the dot-com bust when terrorists attacked the United States in September 2001, points out the department or workforce services' latest Trendlines report.

While 9/11 made the recession deeper and longer, the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City may have helped reduce the impact.

Utah's hot economy is the latest reason being offered for the state's near-record gasoline prices, explains the department of workforce services.

Last month, Utah's average price for self-serve regular gasoline ranked as the fourth highest in the nation.

Addressing the issued, Utah Petroleum Association president Lee Peacock said "external factors," primarily the demand for refined products, have kept the state's gasoline prices at a premium.

The association represents Utah's five refineries, said

On a positive financial note, fewer Utahns are falling behind on mortgages and losing homes to foreclosure.

The percentage of Utah home loans in foreclosure at the end of second quarter registered at 0.74 percent, dropping from a peak of 2.03 percent two years ago, reports the Mortgage Bankers Association's national delinquency survey.

Utah, once ranking among the top 10 states in foreclosures, is currently lower than the national average of 0.99 percent.

Thirty states have higher foreclosure rates than Utah, according to the association's national delinquency survey.

As expected, the Utah Legislature, in special session, cut income taxes and agreed to a local option sales tax hike for roads, light rail and commuter rail, notes the department of workforce services Trendlines report.

Legislators raised no taxes. Voters will decide county-by-county if their local sales taxes are increased by a quarter-cent for transportation needs.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is doling out $9.5 million in grants for Utah projects.

The federal transportation funding includes nearly $6.8 million to boost the fleet of Utah Transit Authority buses.

UTA will receive $6.77 million in federal revenues toward funding the purchase of two dozen 40-foot-long buses and related equipment for replacement of retiring buses, concluded the department of workforce services Trendlines report.

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