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Job growth in Utah tops 2003 by 3%

Deseret Morning News graphic

Utah's job growth for September suggests the state is finally "shedding the shackles of recession," according to the latest report from the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

Utah's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for September remained virtually unchanged at 4.8 percent, the department reported Tuesday, up a "statistically insignificant amount" from August's 4.7 percent. About 57,700 Utahns were without work last month, compared to 65,400 unemployed during the same month one year ago.

The number of new jobs created during the past twelve months rose 3 percent, according to the report. Since September 2003, the Utah economy has added 32,900 new jobs.

"I'm pleased with what's going on in the Utah economy, in terms of employment growth," said the department's senior economist, Mark Knold. "We seem to have kind of shed the shackles of the recession and its effects. We seem to have pretty healthy employment growth, which we needed, because during the recession, population growth continued, so there were divergent pressures there. But we seem to have a nice strong rebound going."

The professional and business services sector added the most jobs, 8,600, while the construction industry added 5,200. Trade, transportation and utilities brought on 5,300 workers during the past 12 months, and manufacturing added 2,700. Slower, though still positive growth, was reported in financial activities, information and natural resources.

Curiously, Knold said, the most growth is occurring outside Salt Lake County. Job growth in Salt Lake County was 1.4 percent, short of the statewide 3 percent average.

"We're seeing strong growth in Washington County, Utah County, Davis and Cache counties," Knold said. "Salt Lake is growing, but it's lagging the overall growth rate by about half."

Washington County reported more than 10 percent employment growth, according to the department's findings. The "best performing metropolitan area" in the state is Davis County, which reported 5 percent growth.

"Much of the county's growth is centered around population growth," the report stated, with most of the growth occurring in the northern parts of the county, including Clinton, Layton and Kaysville. Employment growth in Utah County was 4.4 percent, the department reported.

"Salt Lake County had such a hard dive in the (last) recession," Knold said. "This was a technology-centered setback, and most of the technology industries were located in Salt Lake. They're still slow to rebound."

The U.S. Labor Department reported earlier this month that the country added 96,000 jobs in September. The national unemployment rate remained unchanged, at 5.4 percent.


E-mail: jnii@desnews.com