Job growth in Utah increased by only 0.9 percent in June 2008, as compared to June 2007, a figure that's sliding toward zero percent.

"It seems like we're going to go below zero," said Mark Knold, chief economist for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, who added job growth will likely be negative in the next three to four months. Job growth is the first measure that economists use to examine the economy. People spend less money if they lose their jobs, and are unable to stimulate the economy, which can lead to more job loss .

Construction and financial jobs are currently contracting in Utah, losing 10,900 and 500 jobs growth respectively. Other industries are growing but at a slower rate than last year. For instance, manufacturing has only grown 0.7 percent from 2008 to June 2007.

Knold believes the local construction industry could lose another 11,000 jobs by this time next year, and that the overall job growth rate will be sluggish through 2009.

Interestingly, the number of jobs lost in the construction industry hasn't been reflected in the state's unemployment rate of 3.2 percent, a number economists typically believe reflects a "maxed out, fully employed" economy, Knold said.

In the past five to eight years, jobs in construction that used to be held by local workers are now held by immigrants. These days when construction workers lose their jobs, many don't apply for unemployment. They may move to states where they can find work, or some may return to their home countries.

"Yes, the unemployment rate is up," Knold said. "But it's no where near 11,000 jobs that are being shed."


E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com