SALT LAKE CITY — The Zions Bank Small Business Index for Utah was 113.4 in December 2010, up from a revised 112.2 in the previous month. Utah's unemployment rate was estimated at 7.5 percent last month, down slightly from 7.6 percent in November.

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Total Utah employment grew by an estimated 13,200 jobs during the past 12 months, the index stated. It was a continuation of historically low borrowing costs for a third year will benefit Utah's small business sector, wrote Jeff Thredgold, Zions Bank economic consultant and author of the index. The Federal Reserve is expected to keep its key interest rate unchanged for most or all of 2011, he added.

The index stated that the U.S. economy gained an estimated 103,000 new jobs in December, weaker than the 150,000 to 170,000 jobs analysts had predicted. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 9.4 percent in December 2010, versus a 9.8 percent rate in November.

— Jasen Lee