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Loss of 15,800 construction jobs a blow to Utah economy

SHARE Loss of 15,800 construction jobs a blow to Utah economy

The number of non-agricultural jobs created in Utah was down 0.9 percent this past November, compared with November 2007.

That's a bigger decrease than the previous month this year. The job growth rate for October was revised to -0.4 percent, compared with October 2007, according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services,

Unemployment was up in November 2008 to 3.7 percent, with about 51,200 Utahns looking for work. In November 2007, the state's unemployment rate was 2.8 percent, with about 38,600 people were searching for jobs. Nationally, the unemployment rate for November this year was 6.7 percent.

About 11,500 jobs have been lost from Utah's economy from November 2007 to November 2008, Kelly K. Matthews, executive vice president and economist at Wells Fargo, told reporters during a news conference about the economy.

"In the first half of next year, I'm anticipating that job growth will average about negative 16,000," Matthews said. "So if we're already down 11,000 in November, it might be even more drastic than the 16,000 that I have identified for the first half (of 2009). But it's clearly a very important factor in terms of understanding not only the price situation but the economy situation as to what happens to our jobs and interest rates and ultimately how it affects the housing component."

Mark Knold, Workforce Services' chief economist, predicts that from September

2007 through 2009, at least 19,000 jobs will be lost in Utah.

Between November 2007 and November 2008, about 15,800 of the jobs that disappeared were in construction.

The majority of the job losses were in home construction, which has declined as a result of the subprime lending crisis. Knold believes commercial construction jobs will be lost through next year. Cuts in manufacturing jobs will also increase.

Twenty percent of the state's jobs are in construction, manufacturing and mining, Knold said. The other 80 percent are in services — business, hospitality and retail. Jobs in those sectors may also be cut.

"You have the fear it's going to broaden out to the bigger economy," he said.

Contributing: Brice Wallace

E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com