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Utah job growth surged in July, unemployment fell

Published August 20, 2013 9:23 am

Economy • Statewide unemployment rate declines to 4.6 percent.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah's jobs engine roared back to life in July after two months of sub-par growth.

Employment grew a robust 3.5 percent from the same month of 2012, as employers created 43,300 jobs over the 12-month period, the state Department of Workforce Services said Friday. The state's long-term average is 3.1 percent.

In June, the change from a year earlier cooled to just 2.2 percent, the slowest growth in two years. May's 2.5 percent was the lowest since November 2011.

"It's a drastic change from last month," Carrie Mayne, the department's chief economist, said. "I think this brings us back better in line with what's [really] going on in the economy here in Utah."

The surge of new jobs helped to lower the statewide unemployment rate to 4.6 percent of the labor force from 4.7 percent in June. The department announced the figures on the same day a unit of defense contractor General Dynamics held a ribbon-cutting for a new call center in Sandy that will hire 1,600 people this year. The center will support a contract that the company's Information Technology group received from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Nationally, the number of jobs in the U.S. grew just 1.7 percent last month and the unemployment rate was 7.4 percent.

In Utah, all 11 industries that make up the state's private sector posted job increases in July compared to last year.

The largest increase was in the trade, transportation and utilities group, which added 9,700 jobs.

Professional and business services, a category that includes call center work,created 9,000 jobs in the past year. Leisure and hospitality employers added 7,100 tourism-related jobs.

Federal and state government employment fell by 5,100 positions. Federal employment was lower probably because of automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration, Mayne said. The count of state jobs fell largely for technical reasons, but still reflected a long-term trend of declining employment, she said.

Manufacturing companies put on 3,000 workers, some of whom were hired by Bartile Roofs, a custom concrete roofing maker in Centerville. The company hired one person last fall, four more this spring and another two this month. General manager Nick Evans said the company will bring on at least three more people by the end of 2013 and another 10 by next summer.

"Business conditions are good. We have expanded our sales force outside the state of Utah, so we are getting a lot more orders coming from other regions of the country," Evans said.

Much of Bartile's customers are commercial clients, and the company recently won some big contracts. Another big piece of business comes from people who own expensive homes. That segment of the housing market has been strong over the past 12 months, and the company expects that trend to continue into next year, Evans said.

pbeebe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltribpaul