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Richard Piatt Reporting...Utah's unemployment rate has dropped a bit in the last month: But it's hardly time to celebrate the good news. Like the rest of the nation, most economists say the jobless rate reflects a lagging Utah economy.
High-paying, challenging jobs are still really hard to find. No one knows that more than the crop of people now in the job market: college graduates.
Today is graduation day at the University of Utah. Thousands of graduates will soon flood the job market.
Commencement speakers talk of futures that are bright -- full of promise and of dreams waiting to be fulfilled. But for many of the freshly graduated -- like U of U English major Alli Nelson -- there's plenty of anxiety, too.
Alli Nelson/Graduate, Univ. of Utah: "IT'S HARD, BECAUSE YOU SPEND ALL THIS TIME GETTING THIS DEGREE, GOING TO SCHOOL, DOING ALL THIS WORK FOR NOTHING, YOU KNOW HARDLY ANYBODY GETS A JOB IN THE FIELD THEY STUDY FOR."
Utah's newest unemployment numbers don't help.
April 2003 - 5.3%
March 2003 - 5.7%
April 2002 - 6.3%
5.3 per cent unemployment this month means more than 64-thousand Utahans were without a job. That’s slightly fewer than March of this year, and a whole percentage better than this time a year ago.
Still, economists say it's still tough to find a decent job, a sign the economy is still a bit soft.
Austin Sargent/Regional Economist: "IT'S STILL REALLY HARD TO FIND A JOB, IN THE NET WE'RE STILL CONTRACTING SLIGHTLY. THE CHURN IN ANY LABOR MARKET BUT IT'S QUITE COMPETITIVE. "
Manufacturing jobs are especially hard to get and harder to keep as more jobs are shipped overseas.
Economists say in the long term, high tech jobs look promising, but in the short run the market is sluggish.
Health care jobs are a good bet, especially in Utah.
And there is slight improvement in professional service jobs, like for engineers and accountants.
But for discouraged English grads like Alli Nelson, a first career move could be back in school.
Alli Nelson/U of U Graduate: "HALF THE PEOPLE UP THERE ARE GETTING MASTERS DEGREES AND DOCTORATES BECAUSE A BACHELEORS DEGREE ISN'T ENOUGH SOMETIMES."
A lot of this depends on the overall economy that seems to be looking up -- with some uncertainty.