Apparently ignoring the economic problems besetting the country, Utah's unemployment figure dropped to 4.4 percent in October from 4.5 percent in September, according to the Utah Department of Employment Security's monthly jobless report.

"Utah seems to be ignoring the gloom and doom predictions for the U.S. labor market as a whole," said Lecia Parks Langston, chief economist for the department. "Not only is unemployment holding near 4.5 percent, but job growth in the state remains vigorous, and hopefully the psychology of recession will not blind Utahns to our strong economy," she said.Nationally, the U.S. Labor Department reported unemployment in October remained at 5.7 percent, unchanged from September.

About 35,800 Utahns were out of work in October, the same number as October 1989. Because employment has been growing, it pushed the jobless rate down slightly from the 4.5 percent figure of a year ago.

Non-farm employment in Utah is up almost 5 percent since October 1989, which translates into 33,000 new jobs. "So far, Utah's labor market hasn't caught the lethargy of the U.S. as a whole. However, economic expansion in the 1980s has proved all along to be a rather regional beast," said Langston.

In spite of the fact that several small sectors have lost employment in the past year, all of the state's major industries are growing. Service and trade continued to show the strongest expansion both in actual jobs and percentage growth, she said.

The service industry remains at the top in job creation with a 7 percent increase and a total of 12,200 new jobs. Computer services (such as software companies) continue to show phenomenal growth rates, up 23 percent since last year.

With 9,500 new jobs, the trade sector made a strong showing in job creation, and most of them came in the retail trade area. Jobs in the wholesale trade area showed a 3 percent increase.

The transportation/communication/utilities sector job creation showed a 5 percent increase in the past 12 months. However, trucking/warehousing and air transportation provided the largest portion of this sector's 2,100 new jobs. Railroad employment is down, while communication and utilities employment held steady, Langston said.

Fabricated metal products and electrical machinery manufacturing with 800 lost jobs was the most glaring example among the small industries with declining employment. Railroad transportation and communications lost about 100 jobs each, and the federal government lost about 500 defense jobs.