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Front Page » August 13, 2002 » Local News » Unemployment climbs in Castle Country
Published 5,309 days ago

Unemployment climbs in Castle Country

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In Emery County the unemployment rate rose to 8.1 percent, up from 7.3 percent reported in June. In Carbon County the unemployment rate rose as well, up to 6.4 percent in July. In June Carbon County reported an unemployment rate of 5.3 percent.

Utah's other primary indicator of current labor market conditions, the year-over change in the number of nonfarm wage and salaried jobs, remains negative but it improved slightly for the June reading. The number of Utah jobs is down 1.5 percent year-over, or 15,900 for July 2002�a preliminary measurement. June's measurement has been revised downward from its preliminary-1.5 percent, now registering-1.6 percent.

Nationally, the unemployment rate for July 2002 remained unchanged for the second month in a row at 5.9 percent. The number of persons unemployed was 8.3 million. U.S. nonfarm employment remains in negative territory. For July 2002, year-over, nonfarm employment is down by 1.0 percent. However, the rate of contraction is showing signs of slowing, particularly when compared to the job losses in February and March of 2002 of 1.3 percent.

In Utah, the economy is showing signs that it has reached its bottom. Overall employment is down 1.5 percent, but this is an improvement from June's�1.6 percent. Revisions may change this slightly, but the initial look suggests that perhaps the slump has reached bottom. The economy will probably bounce along this bottom for several months, suggesting a rapid turnaround is not likely.

Construction is one weak point. Employing around 68,200 workers, this is 6,400 fewer workers that measured in July 2001. But 2002 was expected to be a weak year in Utah's construction industry, so these numbers live up to that expectation.

Manufacturing is the hardest hit industry with a year-over drop of 6,800 positions. The industry employs around 120,000 Utahns, but this is down from the peak of 135,000 seen in late 1997. Manufacturing has suffered a three-year slump, not only in Utah but nationally as well. This industry is probably at the low point of its slide, but it shows no prospects for a significant turnaround this year.

The industry conglomeration of transportation/communications/utilities (T.C.U.) is sliding into a deeper malaise. Employment levels are down 4.3 percent year-over while just two months ago it was down only 3.5 percent. The communications industry is one of the major factors in this sector's weakness, along with fewer trucking jobs.

The trade industry is stuck in a rut, with several months of employment losses hovering around 5,300 workers. By employing approximately 246,000 workers, it is Utah's second largest employment division. But the effects of an overall weak economy have put enough of a damper on consumer spending to weaken this sector, particularly in luxury or "high-end" goods. Restaurant employment is also down slightly suggesting consumers may be a bit more frugal in their eating expenditures.

The government sector is helping to add some life to the economy. Employment levels are up by around 3,100 positions. State government employment remained flat. There are slight gains in federal government jobs. Most of the gains occurred in local government.

Utah's largest employment sector is services, employing around 318,400 Utahns. This sector shows year-over growth for July of 1.1 percent. This is an uptick in hiring activity as compared with the previous three months. This is an encouraging sign and we will see throughout the remainder of this year if it continues to build upon this current upswing and provide the impetus to jumpstart the economy. Computer-related services remain down, but vigorous hiring in personal services, amusement/recreations services, and management services help to counter this.

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