Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Washington County job growth continues

Economists wouldn’t call the Southern Utah job market “booming” at this point, but compared to the previous year, things are looking much better for area job seekers, according to an economic report on Washington County released last week.

Overall job growth in the first quarter was up 5.4 percent from the previous year in Washington County — a significant improvement over recent rates, and a signal that even the industries hit hardest by the Great Recession are looking better, Lecia Langston, regional economist for the Department of Workforce Services, said Monday.

That figure represents a net gain of 2,450 jobs and a return to the county’s long-term average for employment growth, Langston said, adding that the figure is well ahead of statewide and national trends. In comparison, job growth statewide was at 3.3 percent, and national growth was only at 1.6 percent.

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits is also on the decline, with 3,027 people filing initial claims for unemployment insurance in July, compared to 3,669 in the same month last year — a 17 percent drop. That means fewer layoffs, Langston said.

Langston said smaller counties tend to struggle more when coming out of a recession, but the hope was that Iron County, which has traditionally grown faster than the rest of the state, will find its economic stride. “We expect that they’ll get quite a bit better as time goes on,” she said. The Spectrum