The unemployment rate held steady at 5.3 percent in December as the businesses added 262,000 workers to their payrolls, capping a year in which jobs grew by a strong 2.6 million.
The increase in payroll jobs, which was led by a surge in employment in service industries, was the largest one-month increase since August and provided further evidence that the economy ended 1996 at a faster clip than analysts had expected.Utah's unemployment rate edged up to 3.1 percent in December from 3 percent in November, Lecia Parks Langston, chief economist for the Utah Department of Employment Security, said Friday.
She said the state's unemployment rate leveled off during the last half of 1996, and although it fluctuated some, in the world of economic data that is basically considered no change.
Langston said the low unemployment rate is still good news for Utah workers because the labor market remains tight and many employers in urban areas are forced to pay higher wages to attract workers.
She said the state had another year of strong non-farm job creation, but the 5.3 percent increase was less than previous years. Still, Utah's rate of job creation is more than double the national average and second only to Nevada.
The 5.3 percent national unemployment rate in December, announced Friday by the Labor Department, marked the second month that the jobless rate has been at that level. Originally, the November figure was reported at 5.4 percent, but it was revised down in Friday's report based on the government's annual benchmark revisions.