The Utah Department of Employment Security says the wages workers make in the Beehive State have fallen further behind the national average in each of the past six years.
Job Service officials say that trend resulted in a 10-year low of 87.8 percent of the national average in 1987. Statistics show that Utahns currently make an average weekly wage of $352, well below the U.S. average of $403 a week.The state report, released this week, compares 1987 non-agricultural employment and average weekly wages of employers insured under state and federal unemployment insurance programs for the United States and for Utah.
Only a few Utah industries had higher average weekly wage levels than those of the country as a whole. Those were coal and non-metallic mining and legal and education services, said Labor Market economist Richard Newman.
Historically, Utah's overall average weekly wages have consistently been less than the nation's. During the past six years, however, the gap between Utah's average wage level and the nation's has grown because of three trends, Job Service said.
"The gap has been widening over the past several years. I don't know the main reason behind it. I know the cost of living (in Utah) has been flat all year, even though the consumer price index for the nation has been rising. That would keep the wages low," Newman said.
Another cause for the lower weekly wage may be a lot of part-time "underemployed" workers, he said. However, Job Service has no way to measure that, Newman noted.
A third reason is the influx of lower-paying service and trade jobs and a decrease in higher-paid mining and construction jobs.