Utah's unemployment figure in March inched up to 4.2 percent from 4 percent in February, but Utah Department of Employment Security officials aren't worried.
Lecia Parks Langston, a department economist, said that although joblessness increased in March, "Utah's economy remains robust as evidenced by a 4.5 percent non-farm job growth rate."The unemployment rate usually fluctuates within the larger trend, and joblessness in Utah has generally declined over the past year. "In fact, unemployment in the first three months of 1990 ranks as the lowest of any three-month period in the past 10 years," Langston said.
Nationally, the unemployment rate declined to 5.2 percent in March from 5.3 percent in January and February. The Labor Department said the number of jobs increased a slim 26,000 in the month, the smallest gain since June 1986.
In the state department's monthly unemployment report, state officials said about 38,000 Utahns were out of work in March, an 18 percent decline from the number of unemployed in March 1989.
Langston said high unemployment figures in March, April and May 1989 "appear to be statistical aberrations" when measured against the overall declining 1988-1990 trend. She said comparisons with those months may be misleading as unemployment at that time was significantly higher than the general trend for 1989.
Unemployment hasn't dropped quite as much as it may appear at first glance, she said.
Since March 1989, 30,200 new jobs have been created in Utah and Utah's 4.5 percent growth rate almost doubles the current pace of national employment expansion, Langston said.
Mining, construction, trade, transportation, communication, utilities and the service industry all grew 6 percent or more over March a year ago. On the negative side, manufacturing, finance, insurance, real estate and government sectors all had job expansion of 2 percent or less.
Strong growth in mining and construction persists as one of the top economic stories of 1990, Langston said. Both of them are making a healthy comeback after several years of declining or slow growth.
Mining employment increased 8 percent in the past 12 months, the highest of the major industrial sectors. Most of the new mining jobs created since March 1989 were in the oil, gas or quarrying category.
In the past year, 1,500 new construction jobs have been created, a 7 percent increase.