Job seekers in Utah outnumber new jobs

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SALT LAKE CITY -- People lined up for new jobs in Salt Lake City Wednesday, but there are nowhere near enough in Utah and the forecast is not promising.

Kendra Lenz was part of a steady stream of job seekers who came to Qwest for a job fair. The young mother is a classic victim of the economy.

"It's been so hard. I lost my job from the bank in December, and I have yet to find a job. I've looked and looked and looked, and it's been so hard," Lenz said.

At Qwest, job-seekers outnumbered new jobs more than 10-to-1.

"We only have 60 or 80 positions. We've had 800 to a thousand people by the end of the day. A lot of people will be disappointed probably," said Scott Diloreto, director of Salt Lake consumer operations for Qwest.

But a year after the stock market collapse, Utah Department of Workforce Services Chief Economist Mark Knold does have at least optimistic thing to point out.

"I anticipate that we're getting very close, in this current time period, to the bottom of the employment slide," Knold said.

Job growth in Utah started losing steam in 2007, but steep job loses began a year ago. There are signs the curve is bottoming out, but Knold does not expect rapid job recovery.

"It's going to be a rough ride coming out the other side, employment-wise," Knold said.

He thinks it could take until 2012 just to get back the jobs we've lost; it could be what economists call a "jobless recovery": productivity grows, slow recovery begins, jobs remain stubbornly low.

"Luckily, I do have a husband, and he has got a full-time job. He's got a stable job, and that's been helpful. But it's been very, very though because it's hard to support all three of us," Lenz said.

"Unfortunately, the thing that is needed through this whole thing is time, and unfortunately a lot of people don't have time," Knold said.

One thing that may bring a bit of relief is a move by the governor expected later this week or early next. His office hasn't confirmed it, but housing industry insiders predict he will revive the popular Home Run grant program, authorizing several million dollars in grants for home buyers.


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John Hollenhorst


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