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Utah’s nonfarm wage and salaried job count for November 2012, as generated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), expanded by 3.1 percent compared against the employment level for November 2011. This is a 12-month increase of 37,800 jobs and raises total wage and salary employment to 1,266,700.
The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate—generated by BLS—is Utah’s other primary indicator of current labor market conditions and registers 5.1 percent, down from last month’s 5.2 percent. Approximately 69,600 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 7.7 percent.
The Utah economy has been performing well throughout 2012, and this month’s employment estimates are finally reflecting that. A growth rate of 3.1 percent is equal to Utah’s long-term yearly average (measured since 1950) and is a milestone in gauging Utah’s employment recovery from the recession. This is the first time the economy has achieved average employment growth since late 2007. The private sector is producing all of this job growth as there was no net government employment growth over the past year.
The unemployment rate continues to inch down. This goes hand-in-hand with the expanding job growth. A complementary improvement this year is an increase in the labor force participation rate. That variable measures the percentage of people 16 and older who are either working or looking for work. Prior to the recession, the rate for Utah stood around 72 percent. It declined through the recession as people exited the labor force due to discouragement from the recession’s impact or other factors. The participation rate reached a low of 66.1 percent at the beginning of 2012. In the 11 months since, the participation rate trend has reversed and is now standing at 66.8 percent for November. Sidelined workers are starting to return to an active job search, thus feeling more positive about the Utah job market.
Natural resources and mining continue to benefit from the oil and gas expansion within the Uintah Basin. It is estimated that 500 jobs have developed over the past 12 months in this industry. This industry currently employs around 12,600 workers in Utah.
Construction employment is estimated to be up by 300 over the past year. The construction industry in Utah does slow down this time of year as the weather moves toward winter, but close to 68,000 workers still ply their trade within this industry.
Manufacturing employment continues its rebound from the recession, adding 3,000 workers over the past 12 months.
Utah’s largest employment sector is Trade, Transportation, and Utilities. Estimated employment gains of 5,600 over the past 12 months constitute a growth rate of 2.3 percent. These gains are largely occurring on the trade side, both wholesale and retail.
The Information sector is estimated to have added 3,200 new jobs over the past 12 months. Information includes the publishing industry, motion pictures, telecommunications, and internet service providers, among others.
The Financial sector is making a rebound from the hit it took during the recession years. Approximately 5,000 jobs have been added over the past 12 months. Most of these are in financial institutions. The real estate side of the equation has yet to post noticeable gains.
The Professional and Business Services sector added the most new jobs in Utah over the past year at 11,000. A sizeable portion is coming from the professional, scientific, and technical side, an area that generally requires greater levels of education for employment and also returns higher-than-average wages. This includes accounting, engineering, design services, computer systems design forms, and consulting services, among others.
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 4,500 new jobs in Utah over the past 12 months.
The Leisure and Hospitality sector is estimated to have added 3,600 new jobs over the past 12 months. Much of this is occurring in the restaurant industry.
Government employment was down by 100 positions over the past year. Cumulative government employment aggregates from three jurisdictions—federal, state, and local. As state and local government employment have increased over the past year (all due to government run education growth), federal government employment has decreased by an equal amount plus 100. Federal cutbacks are coming through defense, the postal service, and the IRS.
* Additional analysis and tables http://jobs.utah.gov/wi/pubs/une/index.html
* Utah’s December employment information will be released at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, January 18, 2013.