Utah's Jobless Numbers Indicate Slight Growth

Utah's Jobless Numbers Indicate Slight Growth

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A slight downturn in Utah's January unemployment numbers from those a year ago indicate some growth, economists say.

The Utah Department of Workforce Services reported Friday that January employment was down by 5,200 jobs, or 0.5 percent, compared with January 2002.

"There is no change between December and January in terms of the direction the economy is going," said Mark Knold, the department's senior economist. "But a year ago, we were building up heavily for the Winter Olympics. So you're going to have to produce a good 3,000 to 5,000 new jobs just to counter that. The fact that the numbers held steady means that we had some growth."

In its first month using a new classification system, the department reported no change in the number of service sector jobs.

Education and health services gained 3,700 positions during the last year, with most in health care. Manufacturing lost 1,900 jobs, while government added 3,700 jobs. About 63,900 Utah residents were out of work last month.

The information category, which includes technology industries, newspapers and libraries, trimmed 1,500 positions since last January. The leisure and hospitality sector was down 2,700 jobs, while the construction industry declined by 2,600.

Professional and business services, another new category, trimmed 1,500 jobs.

Utah's unemployment rate remained steady at 5.6 percent. The nation's unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped to 5.7 percent in January as businesses added 143,000 jobs. The increase in payroll jobs, mostly in the retail area, was the largest since November 2000, said Friday's Labor Department report. The overall rate dropped by 0.3 percentage point from December's 6 percent rate, which matched an eight-year high.

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

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