Utah had some of the highest employment and wage growth in the nation through the first quarter of this year.

With an average increase in employment of 5.1 percent and wage growth increases of 5.3 percent over the the same period in 2006, the state ranked ninth in the country for growth. The average growth in the United States was only a 1.4 percent increase in employment, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Dept. of Labor.

Despite the gains, Utah's four Wasatch Front counties tracked well below the national average wage Davis, Utah and Weber counties were all in the bottom 10 percent of average wages among the 328 largest counties in the nation.

Salt Lake County, with the highest average weekly wage in the state at $788 — still below the national average of $885 and ranked 159th among the counties nationally. The county saw an increase of 5.8 percent in wage growth.

Utah County, which had the state's highest increase in employment with 7.3 percent and a 6 percent increase in wages, still ranked only 310th in the nation for its weekly average wage of $623.

The county ranked third nationally for their employment growth. The other counties in the top four, however, were areas recovering from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Davis County and Weber County also ranked near the bottom of the average wage areas. Davis was 296th and Weber was 317th.