Carrie Mayne, chief economist with the Department of Workforce Services, reported a 4 percent job growth in the February 2013 Employment Situation Report.
Her detailed analysis of the job market in Utah provides insights that help job seekers understand why the job market is where it is and where it is heading.
Natural resources and mining continues a trend of growth deceleration that began nearly a year ago and came to a halt in February. It is likely the case that the industry has simply reached a short-term plateau. Future natural gas prices and coal-mining activity in 2013 will influence whether the industry is able to regain momentum.
The construction industry posted moderate gains, adding 4,200 jobs over the past 12 months. Permitting activity and rising home prices will help to continue the growth at a slow but steady pace throughout 2013. The current employment share for construction sits below the long-run average, signaling potential for the industry to grow at a faster pace. Momentum gains could occur in 2014.
Jobs in manufacturing continued to grow in February, posting a year-over-year gain of 3.5 percent (4,000 jobs). Although the industry has not reached its pre-recession peak employment levels (129,500 in December 2007), Utah continues to add manufacturing jobs at a much higher rate than the nation, where only 0.9 percent growth was experienced in February.
More than 10,600 jobs were added in the trade, transportation and utilities industry from February 2012 to February 2013, bringing the industry to a total of 244,500 jobs. Retail trade added jobs at a year-over-year pace of 5 percent, bolstered by fairly strong consumer confidence as of late.
Information grew 11.5 percent compared to February 2012. If this estimate holds true as payroll counts are tallied over the coming months, the industry will have reached a level not seen in Utah since 2001. The February 2013 estimate stands at 34,000 jobs.
Gains in the financial activities industry, measuring an additional 4,200 jobs over the past 12 months, primarily come from finance and insurance businesses, which grew 7.9 percent year-over-year. Real estate employment continues the struggle to gain post-recession momentum.
Professional and business services, having added 7,000 jobs since February 2012, continues to grow at a rate that is only slightly below the average rate for each of the last 12 months.
Driven by population growth and steady demand for services, education and health posted expected levels of employment gains, adding 5,300 jobs over the last 12 months ending February 2013.
Employment growth in the leisure and hospitality area, which posted a 7.8 percent gain, stands out in the current analysis of industry employment in Utah. An early ski season gave a boost to the year-over-year comparisons, which seem to continue to influence the survey results.
Government employment experienced a somewhat surprising upswing in February employment, adding an estimated 800 positions since February 2012. Further examination reveals that the additional jobs are primarily in state colleges and universities, and mainly the result of differences in the timing of data collection and the beginning of the school semester.
A special thanks to Carrie Mayne for her analysis and insights.
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.