Tooele County’s unemployment rate has begun a slow upward creep.
Preliminary data released last month for July 2013 showed the county’s unemployment rate was 5.2 percent, the same as June 2013. However, revised data for July and preliminary figures for August peg the July unemployment rate at 5.3 percent and the August rate at 5.4 percent.
The slow climb is not surprising to state economists that watch Tooele County.
“Increases, so far slight, in the unemployment rate are consistent with some overall job reductions since the summer of 2011,” said James Robson, Department of Workforce Services (DWS) regional economist.
Robson also pointed out that the four week average of initial unemployment claims during the second quarter of this year was 43. That number is above the average of 36 in 2012, and 2011’s second quarter average of 39.
Total non-farm employment at the end of March in Tooele County dropped from 15,881 in 2011 to 15,705 in 2012, and then to 15,336 in 2013. That is a loss of 545 jobs, a 3.4 percent reduction in local employment.
Tooele County’s job loss and unemployment rate has been tempered the last two years by job creation elsewhere along the Wasatch front.
Since 2011 Salt Lake County’s economy has created 40,580 new jobs in the state, a 7.1 percent increase.
With 40 percent or more of Tooele County’s labor force commuting to Salt Lake County for work, many of the county’s past and recently laid off workers joined them in the commute for work.
DWS data shows that the workforce sectors with the most job loss in Tooele County are professional services, the category that includes URS workers at the former Deseret Chemical Depot, and government, which would include losses in employment at Tooele County and a reduction in civilian defense workers.
While Tooele County’s unemployment rate has climbed by 0.2 percentage points in the last two months, the labor force has increased by 259 people in the same time period from 29,301 to 29,560, a 0.88 percent increase.
The number of unemployed people increased from 1,529 to 1,593, an increase of 64 people in the last two months, or a 4.2 percent increase.
The Tooele County August unemployment rate of 5.4 percent is the same as the county’s 23-year average unemployment rate, and below the August 2012 unemployment rate of 6.1 percent.
The state unemployment rate for August 2013 rose one-tenth of a percentage point from July 2013, climbing from 4.6 percent to 4.7 percent. The national unemployment rate dropped from 7.4 percent in July 2013 to 7.3 percent in August 2013.