Employment and wage increases in Utah, particularly in manufacturing, should mean moderate economic growth for the state in the second half of the year as income gains strengthen consumer spending.
That's the view of First Security Corp. economist Kelly K. Matthews in assessing the state's economic performance in the second quarter.Matthews said first quarter personal income in Utah increased 4.3 percent over last year, slightly down from the 5.2 percent increase logged in the last three months of 1987.
Matthews said there was no measurable consumer inflation along Wasatch Front communities during the second quarter.
Matthews said the continuing trend of people leaving Utah persists so far in 1988. "While a stable or shrinking labor force contributes to impressive reductions in the unemployment rate," he said, "it also means that growth rates iln income, sales and construction will continue to lag behind other areas."
Matthews said non-farm payroll jobs in June totaled 653,000, an increase of 10,200 (1.6 percent) over last year. Job gains so far in 1988 have been virtually stable, averaging 10,300.
"This moderate employment gain, combined with a substantial drop in unemployed workrs to 36,000 from 50,000 a year ago, has pushed the unemployment rate consistently lower through the first half of 1988," said Matthews.
Matthews said second-quarter job growth in manufacturing and services increased 13,000 jobs, or 5 percent. He said the manufacturing outlook remains positive as companies moving to Utah have indicated they will create 1,050 new jobs.
Construction improved in Utah during the second quarter, said Matthews, but still remains clouded. Silngle-family housing building permits were down 26 percent and multi-family housing permits were down 60 percent.
Matthews said the return of the $80 million state tax surplus to consumers next month whould give a big boost to consumer spending.