November 17, 2012

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Utah’s Labor Market Tightening

Heather Stewart

November 17, 2012

Information released Friday by the Utah Department of Workforce Services shows that Utah’s unemployment rate has dropped to 5.2 percent and that most industries—except government and construction—are adding employees. As the economy improves, businesses may find it increasingly difficult to find qualified employees.

“The job market is extremely, extremely busy,” said Jill Perelson, owner of recruiting firm Prince, Perelson & Associates. “People are getting multiple offers and counter-offers to stay where they are.”

In particular, Perelson said that degreed professionals are in very high demand, as well as inside sales reps, customer service reps and call center workers, among others. “Executive search is really, really busy,” she added. “It’s wild out there.”

Companies are no longer relying on temps, said Perelson, but bringing on permanent workers or temp-to-permanent placements. Her business saw 40 percent growth last year, and her recruiters are still working hard to meet the demand.

With the unemployment rate dropping and the labor market tightening, is now a good time for businesses to begin hiring—before all the best talent is gone? “I would say they are six months behind the ball already,” said Perelson. She has heard from several clients that they have aggressive growth plans for the near future. “All of these companies are talking about adding numerous employees, and where are they going to find them?” she said.

Professional and business services—a DWS category that includes administrative services, accounting, engineering, design services, computer systems design and consulting services, among others—added 10,800 over the past 12 months for a growth rate of 6.6 percent.

According to the DWS, Utah’s economy added 28,300 jobs over the past 12 months; however, nearly 71,000 Utahns are still unemployed and seeking work. The national unemployment rate is 7.9 percent—nearly 3 percentage points higher than Utah. The state saw employment growth of 2.3 percent, while the national growth rate was only 1.4 percent.

“I know there are people who are not finding work,” said Perelson. But she said that good opportunities are out there, especially for experienced professionals.

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