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Utah has done a good job of putting its people to work in the past few years, and that probably will continue into the 1990s, according to Floyd G. Astin, Utah Department of Employment Security administrator.

In looking back at the past decade and forward to the next one, Astin said the state struggled through three recessions and as the decade closes most facets of the Utah economy are improving. "In fact, labor market indicators show that 1989 was the best year of the decade," he said.Utah's unemployment rate is very low and the state's growth in the number of non-farm jobs is rapid and broadly based, which is expected to continue into next year. However, since the national economic growth is expected to be slower in 1990, Utah's non-farm employment growth is forecast to be more moderate.

"Nevertheless, Utah's employment will continue to be one of the fastest-growing in the nation," Astin said.

Utah ended the year with a 4.7 percent unemployment rate, the lowest of the decade; and that figure is expected to drop to 4.4 percent next year as Utah businesses create more jobs. At that rate, the state unemployment rate will continue to be 1.5 percent below the national average.

In 1990, Utah non-farm payroll employment is expected to average 715,500 jobs, which is an increase of 23,500 jobs or 3.4 percent from the 1989 level. Service-producing employment growth, dominated by the service and trade industries, will comprise 80 percent of the increase, Astin said.

Manufacturing and, to a lesser extent, construction will provide most of the new goods-producing jobs.

The service industry ended 1989 with a phenomenal 8 percent growth rate, Astin said. Between 1988-89, services added 12,900 new jobs to the Utah economy and expansion proved particularly strong in business services.

In 1990, the service industry is forecast to produce 7,700 new jobs for a 4.6 percent growth rate. This again will be the bulk of the new jobs.

The trade industry should follow close behind services in 1990, adding 7,600 new jobs, a 4.6 percent increase over this year.

Because of the relatively low wages in the trade industry, there is some evidence of a labor shortage, Astin said. If this is true, wages in retail trade may begin to rise. "However, no statistical evidence supports that supposition for the current time frame," he said.

Employment in Utah's construction industry will increase considerably in 1990 and continue with steady growth throughout most of the 1990s as many large recreational and commercial projects become a reality. "However, the persistent but decreasing net out-migration of Utah's population should prevent a surge in residential construction," the report said.

He said the housing glut of the 1980s has diminished. Department officials anticipate that construction will show the largest percentage increase of any major industry in 1990, almost 6 percent with a 1,500-job increase.

Employment in mining will increase 2.5 percent; manufacturing, up 2.7 percent; transportation/communications/public utilities, up 2.2 percent; and government, up 1.9 percent.

Because of the continuing rapid growth in the state's service-producing industries and greater potential for jobs in Utah to be part-time, the average annual pay of Utah's non-farm workers in 1990 again will be 87 percent of the national average, Astin said.

"As higher-paying manufacturing jobs infuse Utah's economy during the decade, this relationship to the national average annual pay should gradually improve," the report said.


(Additional information)

Utah unemployment rate and non-farm jobs

Year Non-farm Unemployment

jobs rate

1980 551,900 6.3 percent

1981 559,200 6.6 percent

1982 561,000 7.9 percent

1983 567,000 9.2 percent

1984 601,100 6.5 percent

1985 624,400 5.9 percent

1986 634,100 6.0 percent

1987 640,300 6.3 percent

1988 660,100 4.9 percent

1989* 692,000 4.7 percent

1990** 715,500 4.4 percent



Source: Utah Department of Employment Security, Labor Market Information Services.