Web site predicts major job losses

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Lawmakers are getting an update on Utah's job situation just as an online report says the state stands to lose 30,000 jobs this year.

Moody's Economy.com estimates Utah will lose 31,016 jobs, or 2.5 percent of the current workforce. All states are forecast to end this year with fewer jobs than they had on January first, but only 13 states are looking at a more troubling forecast than Utah's.

Mark Knold, chief economist for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, briefed the state House Workforce Services, and Community and Economic Development standing committee this morning. According to Knold, Utah does stand to lose a lot of jobs, but he's not predicting quite as dire an outlook as Moody's.

"Yes, we will get pulled down within the economic downturns because, after all, we're just something within the bigger shell of the United States economy," Knold told the committee. "But our individualized position, though, in good economic times, is for strong growth going forward," he added.

In part, he says that's because of a shift away from an industrial economy, which left the Intermountain West largely underdeveloped during the nation's formative years. He says because of the shift toward technology and other fields, the mountains are no longer the barrier they once were to transport and commerce.

He adds that population growth tends to come with job growth, and this region of the country is still in a good position for both as the result of being underdeveloped prior to the current day.

Utah's historic high for unemployment approached 10 percent during the early 80s, when many baby boomers flooded the job market. He doesn't think we'll hit that high this time around. "I'm not anticipating that. I have us pegged more along the lines of a six and a half, maybe pushing 7 percent unemployment," he said.

Utah's unemployment rate rose to 4.3 percent in December, compared to the national unemployment rate of 7.2 percent.

If the forecasts hold true from both Knold and Moody's, it will be the first time since the dot-com bust of 2002 that Utah has fewer jobs in one year than it had in the year before.

E-mail: bbruce@ksl.com

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Becky Bruce


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