Unemployment rose to 5.6 percent in May - an increase of two-tenths of a percentage point - sparked by a jump in joblessness among adult men, the government reported Friday.
Utah Department of Employment Security officials said Utah's unemployment in May increased slightly to 5.3 percent from 5.2 percent in April, which is a reversal of a trend that has gone on for several months. However, they said the increase is no cause for alarm.The May 1988 unemployment rate still is 1.5 percent lower than the May 1987 rate. Department officials said that although 40,300 Utahns were out of work in May, the number of jobless people has fallen almost 23 percent since last year. They also noted that Utah's unemployment rate still is below the national average.
The nation's unemployment rate in April was 5.4 percent. The higher figure for May - 5.6 percent - returned the jobless rate to the same level as March, when it also stood at 5.6 percent.
The increase in joblessness reversed a general trend of downward movement since last fall.
"Most of the over-the-month change in joblessness occurred among adult men, whose unemployment rate rose 0.3 percentage point to 4.9 percent," the Labor Department said.
Some 6.8 million people were unemployed in May, the Labor Department reported.
The department noted, however, that since May 1987, the unemployment level has declined, overall, by about 800,000 people - a reduction of 0.7 percent.
Lawrence Hunter, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce economist, said the unemployment increase was not overly significant and predicted the figure would decline again in future months.
"If you look at all the details in the report, everything's essentially unchanged. It's amazing," Hunter said.
"It appears the economy has reached a comfortable plateau - steady, sustainable growth and low inflation," Hunter said. "Further improvements in the unemployment situation are likely to be reflected over the coming quarters and an uneven downward drift in the unemployment rate, rather than a sharp decline."
The employment picture deteriorated slightly in the finance, insurance and real estate industries.
Since January, 10,000 jobs have disappeared in the financial sector of the economy, the Labor Department said, a significant factor because finance had been "one of the best performers throughout much of the (conomic) expansion."
The employment gains that did occur were largely confined to the service industry - where some 80,000 new jobs were created.