Utah unemployment dips slightly

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 11:12 AM



SALT LAKE CITY — New labor statistics show Utah’s unemployment rate has improved slightly from last month and remains well below the national rate.

The newest numbers show 4.9 percent of the state’s workforce was unemployed in March. That’s a 4 percent improvement from the same month last year. The national unemployment rate is 7.6 percent.

The Utah Department of Workforce Services says the state saw notable job increases in March from the year before in the transportation industry. Other notable job gains occurred in the leisure and hospitality industry, and in professional and business services.

Meanwhile, the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits increased just 4,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 352,000. The slight gain kept applications at a level consistent with solid hiring and suggests March’s sluggish hiring may be temporary.

“While the national economy slowed down, Utah’s economy continues to pick up steam,” said Gov. Gary Herbert. “By adhering to proven economic principles and fostering certainty in the business environment, Utah is solidly on the path to prosperity and is showing the nation how to get out of the economic mire.”

Juliette Tennert, chief economist at the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, said Utah continues to make progress.

“The latest data show Utah’s economy continues to move in the right direction. While our unemployment is higher than we like, it is still 1 percent lower than it was a year ago, and far below the national rate. We also have 49,000 more private-sector jobs than we did last year.”

Utah’s new jobs added in March accounted for 7.7 percent of all the jobs (seasonally adjusted) created in the U.S. during that same time period, and the state’s 4 percent annual job growth is more than double the national rate. Utah’s unemployment rate is 2.7 percentage points less than the national rate.

Nationally, the unemployment rate fell to 7.6 percent in March, down from 7.7 percent in February. Still, the drop occurred because more people out of work stopped looking for jobs. The government doesn’t count people as unemployed unless they are actively looking for work.

The economy is expected to grow at a much quicker pace in the January-March quarter than in the final three months of last year. Growth could top an annual rate of 3 percent in the first quarter, up from just 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter.

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