September 21, 2012

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Utah’s Employment Dips Slightly

Press Release

September 21, 2012

Utah’s nonfarm wage and salaried job count for August 2012, as generated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), expanded by 2.0 percent compared against the employment level for August 2011. This is a 12-month increase of 24,300 jobs and raises total wage and salary employment to 1,234,700.

The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate—generated by BLS—is Utah’s other primary indicator of current labor market conditions and registers 5.8 percent. This is a slight downward movement in relation to the past several months. Approximately 78,700 Utahns are considered to be actively unemployed. The current United States unemployment rate, as compared to last month, fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 8.1 percent.

All industrial sectors are adding to the job growth this month, including construction. This speaks to the diversity of the current employment recovery. All industries have turned the corner from the recession’s low point and are in the process of modest expansion. The pace of job gains are estimated to have slowed recently and this is a reflection of the larger pause that has inflicted the United States economy over the past six months. Utah has economic factors that generally allow it to perform better than the United States average. Nonetheless, Utah also functions within the greater United States and global economies and thus has parameters around its distinctiveness.

Job gains of the past year are having their subtle influence upon the unemployment rate as its trend is downward. Job losses are at their lowest levels in four years when observing initial unemployment claims as a proxy for measuring layoffs and other disassociations within the job market.

Goods Producing
Natural resources and mining remain Utah’s strongest growth sector with employment gains over-the-year of 6.7 percent, or 800 jobs, most of which originates in the Uintah Basin. This does, however, represent a moderating of the growth rate in relation to the earlier months of this year. The pace of job growth was brisk throughout most of last year and not expected to be maintained for a second year.

Construction employment is back on the positive side of the ledger again this month, estimated to be up by 800 positions. This industry’s estimates have been back and forth at times this year. Taken as a whole, this industry has found its recession bottom and is looking to get some growth momentum started.

Manufacturing jobs are estimated to have grown by 3,600 over the past 12 months.

Service Producing
Utah’s largest employment sector is Trade, Transportation and Utilities. Estimated employment
gains of 1,200 over the past 12 months is not particularly robust as growth is only 0.5 percent. But with the opening of the City Creek Center in downtown Salt Lake City within the past year, it is possible that future data revisions will raise these employment counts.

On a percentage basis, the Information sector is the second fastest growing in Utah at 5.7. Because of the limited amount of detail surveyed in this industry, it is not possible to pinpoint exactly where this growth is occurring.

Financial activities are on the mend in Utah after the recession’s setback. About 2,300 new jobs are estimated to have developed in this sector over the past year. This sector accounts for around 6 percent of all Utah employment, the majority of which is concentrated in the Salt Lake City area.

The Professional and Business Services sector added the most new jobs in Utah over the past year at 7,200. Nearly all of this growth is coming from the professional, scientific, and technical side, which is an area that generally requires greater levels of education for employment and also returns higher-than-average wages. The remainder is coming from an assortment of services such as security, landscaping, janitorial, building maintenance, and waste management.

Private Education and Health Services is a stalwart of the Utah economy, having grown through both of the recessions of the past ten years. The sector is estimated to have added 2,500 new jobs in Utah over the past 12 months.

The Leisure and Hospitality sector is estimated to have added 1,200 new jobs over the past 12 months.

Government employment is estimated to be up 2,200 positions over the past 12 months. Most of this growth is coming at the state government level—in both education and non-education. Federal government employment is down by 2,200 positions, mostly at the IRS and the Postal Service. Local government showed minor employment increases over the past 12 months.

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