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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah's unemployment rate jumped slightly to 7.5 percent in September, but remained well below the national figure of 9.6 percent.
Figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the rate increased one-tenth of a percent from August to September.
The Utah Department of Workforce's chief economist said Thursday that Utah's economy is slowly improving and that recent upticks in the unemployment rate are likely a sign of more people seeking work.
"Those who have been discouraged workers and idle on the sidelines and aren't in the unemployment rate come out and look for a job. They suddenly will become unemployed in that respect and can push up the unemployment rate," Mark Knold said in a podcast.
Last September, the unemployment rate was 6.7 percent.
"These are the highest levels it's going to get to. I don't see it getting over 8 percent, even if large quantities of people just suddenly rush back to try to come and look for a job. This is probably going to be the high level of the unemployment climb in this whole recession," Knold.
The Utah Department of Workforce Services said that about 101,000 Utahns were considered unemployed in September.
Total employment in the state is about 1.2 million, up about 9,000 from a year ago.
The department said most sectors of the state's economy were starting to grow jobs.
The professional and business services sector added 4,800 new jobs in the past year, with much of that growth coming from temporary workers. Temporary worker hiring is usually a sign a recovery is starting to happen because businesses use them to help meet increased demand.
Only construction, manufacturing, trade and transportation, and government continued to shed jobs losses over the past 12 months.
Construction's year-over job counts are 1,000 positions, but state officials hope that work on the National Security Agency's data processing center in the Camp Williams area will be enough to push construction employment back up.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)