Winner: Utah's official unemployment rate, as reported by the Department of Workforce Services, has fallen to 6 percent, down from 7.4 percent just three months ago. In addition, the economy added 36,300 jobs in December. That's good news, and it must make state lawmakers breathe a sigh of relief as they get set to begin a session Monday with, for the first time in a while, a growth in tax revenues. However, the news is tempered somewhat by the fact that some of that unemployment drop was due to people leaving the labor force, no longer looking for work. The recession's long-term effects will remain with the state for a long time.
Winner: Along with the good unemployment news this week, the state also learned that it was judged as having the nation's best economic outlook for the fourth year in a row by the American Legislative Exchange Council. The ranking is part of a data-driven study compiled annually into a report titled, "Rich States, Poor States." A co-author of the report said Utah has established business-friendly policies that should help it rank high in this study for years to come. The state's dropping unemployment rate is evidence that such policies are working.
Loser: We wish, just once, that television producers and writers would try to get recognized for something other than pushing the ever-expanding boundaries of decency. The latest show to draw protests was "Modern Family," for an episode in which a toddler was made to appear to say the F-word in public. McKay Hatch, an 18-year-old who got a lot of attention for starting a No Cussing Club five years ago, had asked the network, ABC, to pull the episode. Hatch astutely observed the relationship between rampant swearing and bullying at his school. He believes responsible adults should know better, and that includes people in the entertainment industry. Those arguments didn't hold up, however, and the episode aired. But we hope Hatch doesn't give up the fight.
Winner: So much for the idea that junior high students are too self-absorbed to notice the world around them. A group of 12- and 13-year-old boys in South Jordan were heading to a grocery store for sodas this week when they noticed a woman on the ground with her leg on fire, the apparent victim of a cigarette accident involving nylon stockings. The boys doused the flames with a coat and dialed 911. Although the woman was burned, she may have suffered more serious injuries without the quick help.