Utah Employment Rate Rising

Utah Employment Rate Rising

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah's seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate nudged upward last month, climbing from a revised 4.7 percent in October to 4.9 percent.

About 59,700 Utah residents were unemployed in November, compared to 73,300 in November 2002.

While the jobless rate may not inspire excessive enthusiasm, the total employment numbers do hint at something exciting, said Mark Knold, senior economist with the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

"We've added more jobs," Knold said. "We have more jobs this November than we did last November, and it's the first month this year where we had employment growth."

The state added 2,500 jobs during the November year-over period, Knold said, led by education and health, government and financial activities. Gains were tempered by steep losses in construction and manufacturing.

Knold said Utah needs to be adding 30,000 jobs. "But considering where we came from over the last few years, we'll take it. Hopefully, it's the start of a trend," he said.

Economists are looking for monthly payroll gains of 200,000 to 300,000 to significantly lower the unemployment rate and sustain a labor market recovery.

Knold said he was particularly pleased with the positive movement by the information sector and professional and business services, both of which added 200 new jobs.

"There are positive economic indicators, which are painting a picture of momentum," he said. "It hasn't yet translated on a national level, or in Utah either, into vast amounts of job hiring. But somewhere down the road we expect to see the start of real employment increases."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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