With a solid first quarter 1989 under its belt, the Utah economy is set for continued expansion through the remainder of the year, according to First Security Corp.

In the financial institution's quarterly newsletter "Insights," FSC economist Kelly K. Matthews says the big news locally for the first three months of the year was the improved economic growth evidenced by labor market data.Unemployment dropped to 4 percent in February, noted Matthews, while non-farm job growth reached 25,000, or 3.9 percent. The growth of the labor force in January and February reached 3.4 percent, he said, substantially faster growth than that reported through most of last year.

Matthews said total personal income growth during the first quarter remained in the 6.5-7.5 percent range, after rising 7.9 percent in the third quarter 1988 and increasing 6.5 percent for the full year.

Average hourly wage gains in the third first quarter were up about 4.5 percent, an improvement over recent periods.

Outlook for the second quarter, now underway, is for continued favorable job growth, said Matthews, with the number of new job openings received by Job Service topping 1988 totals by 54 percent.

Matthews said the state's construction industry stabilized in the first quarter and, even with higher interest rates, is expected to show moderate improvement in coming months. Construction employment in February was at 20,700 jobs, up 1 percent after losing 10,000 cumulative jobs since 1985.

"The bottom line is clear," said Matthews. "Utah is being discovered as an excellent place to live and do business. While many urban centers are faced with labor shortages and declining levels of worker education and productivity, Utah has an abundant supply of educated, productive workers . . . ".