Utah's job growth stalled at 0.3 percent in August, the lowest monthly employment growth rate since August 2003, the Department of Workforce Services said today.

The state's unemployment rate, meanwhile, increased to 3.7 percent in August, up from 3.5 percent in July. The biggest gouge came in the construction industry, which lost 14,400 jobs in August compared with a year earlier — a 13.2 percent drop. The financial-services sector lost 1,100 jobs in Utah in August, compared with August of last year.

Utah employers added just over 3,200 jobs in August. The nearly flat growth rate is an important indicator of the "powerful negative external economic pressures" weighing on the state economy, said Mark Knold, chief economist for the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

Even so, the state continued to outperform the national average: Nationally, the number of available jobs decreased 0.3 percent. The national unemployment rate rose 0.4 percent in August to 6.1 percent.

But the number of Utahns without jobs has increased significantly since last summer, with approximately 50,600 Utahns considered unemployed in August 2008, compared with 37,800 last August, the report said.

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