Utah's unemployment rate rose to 3.5 percent in July, with construction workers hardest hit, the Department of Workforce Services reported today.

The unemployment rate is up from the 3.3 percent rate recorded in June, and from 2.7 percent a year ago.

Some 48,900 Utahns were considered unemployed last month, compared to 37,000 in July 2007, the department reported. Construction-industry employment was down nearly 12 percent — or by 12,800 jobs — in July 2008, compared with July 2007. The financial industry was down 1 percent, or 800 jobs, and the information industry was down 0.6 percent, or 200 jobs.

Meanwhile, Utah still is in job-growth mode, albeit slight, at an estimated 0.6 percent, the department said. That's 7,300 new jobs created in the Utah economy, comparing July 2008 with July 2007.

The slim job growth is a contrast with years past. Utah's job growth has averaged 3.3 percent a year since 1950. Last November, Utah's year-over-year job growth for nonfarm wage and salaried jobs was 4 percent.

In July, Utah's most robust job growth came in the education and health industries, with 6,500 additional jobs, a 4.8 percent increase.

Utah also posted 3,900 new jobs in the trade, transportation and utilities industries; 3,800 in government; 3,200 in leisure and hospitality; 2,400 in professional and business industries; and a few hundred each in natural resources, manufacturing and other services. Those numbers represent between 0.1 percent and 2.7 percent job growth, except for natural resources, which posted 4.6 percent job growth.

More than 1.25 million Utah residents had jobs last month.

Utah's situation is better than the national numbers. The nation's July unemployment rate is 5.7 percent, up 0.2 percentage points from June and a full percentage point higher than July 2007, the department said. The nation's job growth is in negative territory, down 0.1 percent from a year ago.


E-mail: jtcook@desnews.com