Thursday, November 18, 2010

Utah's Employment Summary: October 2010

Utah’s nonfarm wage and salaried job count for October 2010, as measured by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) through its monthly employer survey, expanded by 1.4 percent compared against October 2009. Total wage and salary employment measures 1,204,400.

Utah’s other primary indicator of current labor market conditions also generated by BLS, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, registered 7.6 percent. Last October, the state’s rate was 6.7 percent, a 0.9 percentage-point increase over the past 12 months. Approximately 102,400 Utahns are considered unemployed. The United States unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.6 percent.

The Utah economy shows year-over employment improvement, with all occurring in the private sector (non-government). Yet the growth rate of the past four months has been basically unchanged, with each month hovering around 1.4 percent in year-over growth. This suggests that the employment base has expanded over the past 12 months, yet has stalled somewhat over the past four months. This performance is consistent with other economic variables that measure the national economy, like consumer confidence and manufacturing indices, or consumer spending patterns, all suggesting that the economy hit a flat spot during the summer months. Yet the latest national employment profile showed a re-emerging employment expansion in October, and it is anticipated that Utah will not be far behind with an accompanying response.

The rise in Utah’s unemployment rate from 7.2 percent in June to the current 7.6 percent also reflects this flat summer performance. Across that time, the Utah labor force has grown by 4,100 workers. Yet the count of those employed within the labor force is unchanged. So those who have increased the labor force size have all done so upon the unemployed side of the ledger. This may be a reflection of discouraged workers slowly making their way back into the labor market. By being active once again in looking for a job, a previously discouraged worker is now counted in the unemployment statistics as unemployed until they find a job. (Discouraged
workers are those who do not have a job, may wish to have one, but have not been looking for a job because they are “discouraged” by their prospects within the unfavorable economy. The key to being included or excluded in the labor force and the unemployment rate is active participation. If one is not actively looking for a job, then that one is not included in the labor force or the unemployment rate).

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