One of the national problems with the economy is that lower-paid "service" employment is replacing the higher-paid industrial jobs - jobs that have been lost in many cases to overseas competitors.
Utah is no exception to this trend - one of the reasons that government revenue has not been as robust in recent years.A report by the Utah Foundation notes that average non-agricultural employment increased by 18,900 during 1988, compared with job gains of only 6,200 in 1987 and 9,700 in 1986.
Some 4,400 of the 1988 jobs were in the goods-producing sector, with much of the gain resulting from the reopening of the Geneva Steel plant and the Kennecott copper mine. This is welcome news.
Not so welcome, however, is the fact that between 1980 and 1987, goods-producing jobs declined by 10,600, while jobs in the service-producing industries were increasing by nearly 100,000.
Normally, a healthy increase in jobs of any kind would not be looked at askance. But this instance is different. The average wage in a goods-producing industry is about 35 percent higher than the average wage in a service-producing industry, and goods-producing industries tend to be capital intensive, while service-producing industries tend to be labor intensive.
What this all means, of course, is that to counter the trend away from a goods-producing economy, much more effort must be made to attract light, clean industries, such as those involving high-tech products.
Much has been done in this regard, but attracting stable, well-paying jobs must always remain a top priority on Utah's economic growth agenda.