Utah's booming job-growth rate will slow slightly in 1994 and unemployment will show a small increase, but that shouldn't prevent the state from having another economic development boom year.

That word comes from Floyd Astin, Utah Department of Employment Security administrator, who issued a year-end report and a forecast for next year.With high job growth and low unemployment, Utah produced one of the best labor-market performances in the United States this year. Despite a slightly slower job-growth rate and slightly higher unemployment, "Utah should continue to experience very strong expansion in the upcoming year," he said.

While the U.S. economy managed only limited employment expansion, Utah's economy almost boomed, Astin said. He said the state's 5 percent job-growth increase was much higher than the national figure of 1.5 percent and the state consistently ranked at the top in the job-growth percentage.

Astin said Utah started 1993 with an unemployment rate of 5 percent, but now it is slightly over 3 percent, a 15-year low. He said the unemployment rate jumped in the middle of the year due to stronger-than-average youth participation in the work force and in-migration.

Ironically, Utah's strong economy is the reason behind the mid-year increase in joblessness. The increase came primarily from an influx of unemployed out-of-state workers coming from depressed areas and looking for work.

Last year, unemployment in Utah averaged 4 percent, well below the 4.9 percent for 1992. An average of 34,000 Utahns were out of work in 1993, 6,000 fewer than in 1992, Astin said. Most of the year, Utah's unemployment rate was 2.5 to 3 percent lower than the national average, the largest gap in 30 years.

In 1993, 39,100 new non-farm jobs were created, a 5.1 percent increase, 2 percent higher than in 1992.

Astin said construction continued at a strong pace this year with 4,500 new jobs or a 13 percent increase. A strong housing market and few large nonresidential projects kept the construction sector humming, he said.

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He said the national recession and defense spending cuts caused manufacturing employment declines this year, and the industry added only a few jobs. But with the strong growth in the automobile airbag industry, sporting goods equipment, food processing, fabricated metals, computers and chemicals, the entire industry made moderate gains.

Because manufacturing jobs don't usually pay as well as defense-related jobs, some of the luster is gone off the increase in manufacturing jobs.

Mining lost 200 jobs, Astin said, and transportation/communica-tions/utilities added 2,900 new jobs in 1993 for a 6.6 percent increase. The service industry showed an 8 percent increase in new jobs (15,600) with computer services, medical services and help supply firms providing much of the new employment in this sector.

The finance/insurance/real estate sector added 3,100 jobs in 1993, trade added 6,600 jobs and government added 2,900 new jobs despite the defense-related cutbacks. For 1994, Astin believes Utah will add 34,700 new jobs.

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