With Utah's job growth hovering around 3 percent and the nation's job growth at 1.3 percent, it is clear that the state continues to fare better than the nation when it comes to jobs.
Here is how the Top of Utah fared in 2011:
The average unemployment rate for the year for Weber County was 8 percent; Davis County was 6.6 percent; Morgan County was 6.2 percent; and Box Elder County was 8.7 percent.
For the Top of Utah area, Cache County came in the best at 5.2 percent. In comparison, the average unemployment rate for the whole state was 7.1 percent while the national average came in at 8.9 percent.
In each county, the unemployment rate during the last quarter improved each month, ending the year in much better shape than it began.
Although the January 2012 numbers are not yet published, there is little doubt that the improvements have continued. Also, according the Utah Association of Realtors, home sales for 2011 were at the highest rate since 2007, with 33,000 sales.
The area of concern, however, is the rate that households are going into debt. That rate is the highest in more than a decade and it is a troubling trend for those households. The good news within the bad is that a major portion of that debt is for student loans, likely a good investment for the future.
For those who have been unemployed for a long time, here are some ideas that may help:
* Avoid more debt unless it is used for your education. The additional pressure on your future typically is counter-productive.
* If you are looking for full-time employment, spend full time on your job search. Yes that's 35 to 40 hours a week on job search.
* Target at least 50 companies that hire your skills.
* Start networking like crazy. Set realistic goals for how many contacts you are going to make each day; 10 contacts a day is a good start.
* As you search for job openings posted on the Internet, such as www.utahjobfinder.com, be creative in the terms you use in the Job Title or Keyword search.
* In each case, customize your resume to emphasize your skills that best match the job you are applying for.
* Keep track of every contact and/or interview.
There is little doubt that the higher rates of unemployment over the past few years are a major contributor to the soaring rate of household debt. The Christmas season, and giving hearts, was also a major contributor.
With most of the year ahead of us and job growth continuing, more debt should be last on our list or, if possible, completely off our list.
When it comes to effective job search, the additional pressure can and surely will be counter-productive.
Ron Campbell has worked extensively in the job preparation and job search industry. He can be reached at 801-386-1111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.