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Economic outlook improving, analyst says

Published: Thursday, Dec. 8 2011 6:23 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's economic forecast is improving, albeit slower than many would like, according to a national economic analyst.

Anthony Chan, chief economist for J.P. Morgan Chase Wealth Management, told an audience of about 300 people that Utah has made "good progress" on the employment front, with lower unemployment than the national average.

Chan was the featured speaker Thursday at a luncheon presentation at the Grand America Hotel, 555 S. Main.

"The improvement in labor market conditions has been impressive," he said. "The impressive growth that we've seen in Utah is probably reflective of a good handling of the overall economy."

Chan said Utah's low corporate tax rate and business-friendly environment have helped the state avoid some of the challenges that other states around the country have faced.

"You have a much more robust labor market than the overall nation has," he said. "And that is going to continue into next year."

Utah is currently among the top five in employment growth nationally.

The Utah Department of Workforce Services reported that Utah’s nonfarm wage and salaried job count for October 2011 climbed 2.6 percent compared with October 2010 — a 12-month hike of 31,600 jobs. The total wage and salary employment rose to 1,226,800.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate — generated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics — registered at 7 percent, meaning approximately 93,900 Utahns were considered to be unemployed. Nationally, the U.S. jobless rate was unchanged at 9 percent.

But Chan said there is forward momentum in the overall national economy.

"We are making progress, but obviously we're not making progress fast enough," he said. "The magnitude of the economic crisis does suggest that it's going to take awhile to dig ourselves out of it. And the reality of it is that it is taking awhile."

E-mail: jlee@desnews.com

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