Monday, May 22, 2017

Utah's Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates

Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for all Utah counties have been posted online here.

Each month, these rates are posted the Monday following the Unemployment Rate Update for Utah.

For more information about seasonally adjusted rates, read a DWS analysis here.

Next update scheduled for June 19th.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Utah's Employment Situation for April 2017

Utah's Employment Situation for April 2017 has been released on the web.

Find the Current Economic Situation in its entirety here.

For charts and tables, including County Employment, go to the Employment and Unemployment page.

Next update scheduled for June 16th, 2017.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Census Bureau Tool Provides Labor-Force Insight for Utah

By Mark Knold and Cory Stahle

Across the United States, jobs are quantified through each state’s unemployment insurance program. Those programs provide the potential for laid-off workers to receive unemployment benefits — the goal being to bridge the gap between workers’ lost jobs and their next jobs. An eligible recipient’s weekly benefit amount is based upon their earnings from recent work. This begs the question, how does Utah’s unemployment insurance program know how much an individual recently earned while working?

That answer is supplied by all businesses that hire workers, as they must report their employees and pay as mandated by the unemployment insurance laws. Companies identify their individual workers and those workers’ monetary earnings for a calendar quarter. As businesses are identified by their industrial activity and geographic location, it is through the unemployment insurance program that aggregate employment counts by industry and location are calculated.
Yet each state’s profiling of individuals is quite minimal in the unemployment insurance program. The U.S. Census Bureau can bring more light to the overall labor force by supplementing said information with gender, age, race/ethnicity and educational attainment (imputed from American Community Survey responses) for Utah’s labor force.

The Census Bureau packages this information through their Local Employment Dynamics program and makes available said data on its website. Here at the Department of Workforce Services, we recently downloaded and packaged Utah-specific data from said website and summarized it in the attached visualization.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Better, Faster, Smarter . . .Check out our new website design

Information is the treasure of the current age. The instant access to information since the advent of the Internet has transformed societies in ways that thousands of years prior had not. Information can lead to knowledge, and — with increased knowledge — better efficiencies and way of life. If information is vital, then the presentation of information has also risen to a prominent level. With this, the Utah Department of Workforce Services has made some organizational improvements to its economic webpages. Various economic data categories are not mutually exclusive, but we made an effort to compartmentalize economic data for a better organizational display and navigation. We also added a new feature area that taps into various national data elements and measurements from the Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED), the database of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. FRED’s added value is national — and Utah — economic indicators. More on FRED’s contribution below.

Depending on the subject, economic data can be categorized as either broad or specific. For example, the demographic makeup of an area and how that impacts an economic structure is a broad-subject approach. Conversely, a current monthly snapshot of the Utah economy, its job growth and unemployment rate is a more specific observation. Our economic webpage has four “portals” through which to “categorize” and search for information. One portal is broad, while the other three are more specific in nature.

Topic Portals

The monthly employment profile just mentioned is a specific topic and gets its own “portal,” entitled Employment Update. Here, the most current Utah economic performance can be explored and summarized. The information found here is what often gets cited in the local news media in reference to the current Utah job performance and unemployment rate.

The second specific “portal” is labeled Local Insights. This is a quarterly profile of the Utah economy down to a county level. Each county is summarized with its own economic performance, including job growth, unemployment rate, housing starts, taxable sales and other profile variables. The common theme here is a county-specific approach.

The third specific “portal” is Reports and Analysis. Workforce Services’ economic forte is the labor market. Things over and above the everyday reporting on the labor market are presented here. Sometimes we do special economic studies, other times we will report on specific economic groups within the labor force, like women or veterans. Anything we do that is not an often repeated or ongoing report are grouped here.

The final “portal,” and possibly the one that will be most used, is labeled Economic Data. The core of our data collection and analysis is concentrated here. Employment data, occupational data, wage information and demographic profiles are just some of the major economic themes found in this area.

FRED's on site

As mentioned earlier, we have added an economic indicator area tapping into FRED, which is a massive compilation of economic data from various sources — primarily government statistical agencies, but also some nongovernmental organizations. Workforce Services economists have gone through the list and selected a handful of the most useful data series for gauging the performance of Utah’s macro economy and gaining insights into expected trends. Utah functions within the national economy, so the national economic indicators profiled here are intended to also be guiding influences on the Utah economy. These indicators include composite indexes; a recession probability indicator; leading indicators, such as construction permits and the yield curve; coincident indicators, such as real GDP and employment; and price indicators, such as the consumer price index, regional housing prices, and oil and gas prices. Each chart has a detailed description of what the data represent and how they may be useful.

Keeping relevant with the fast-changing pace of the Internet and data presentation is our goal at Workforce Services. We hope these changes help to better present our broad package of economic data offerings.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Show Me the Economy - New Occupational Projections for the Mountainland Region

Mark Knold, Supervising Economist

“The government knows everything about everyone.”

Fortunately, that statement is not true. Yet society still looks to the government to provide answers to comprehensive and complex questions that have their foundation within individual decisions and activities. One subject frequently directed toward the government is individual-level information about the economy — particularly, what occupations are in demand, what occupations pay well and have lucrative outlooks, and ultimately, what occupation(s) should I build my career upon?

It takes the accumulation of a wide array of individual information to answer these questions. Employers provide the foundation information about the occupations they employ. Jobs are held by individuals, but employers provide the profile information about the job itself, not any particular individual.

Since society desires to profile such a broad spectrum of the economy — occupational profiles and the occupational distribution within the economy — only government is in the unique position to collect, analyze and provide answers for said desire. Yet, no government program or regulatory agency mandates any comprehensive occupational reporting from individuals or businesses. Therefore, government attempts to fill the void with an ongoing, robust and voluntary survey of employers — a survey where employers are asked to provide details about their various occupations, including descriptions, quantities, wages/salaries and location. Through this survey emerges an occupational portrait of an economy.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) structures and funds the survey, yet the individual states conduct the survey. Under BLS administration, all states use the same methodology; therefore, occupational profiles are comparable across states.

Through this survey, analysts discover how industries are populated with various occupations. Accountant is an occupation, yet accountants can be found across many different industries. Other occupations may be more exclusive to certain industries; for example, doctors are largely found only in the healthcare industry. One of the survey’s products is that industries can be profiled with their general mix of occupations. This is called an industry’s occupational staffing pattern.

This brings us back to the original questions: what occupations are in demand, what occupations pay well and have lucrative outlooks, and ultimately, what occupation(s) should I build my career upon?

The foundation is to make informed forecasts about how industries will expand/contract over the next 10 years. By applying existing occupational staffing patterns to each industry’s projected change, a trained economic analyst can then make an extrapolation about how occupations will correspondingly increase/decrease. Knowledgeable analyst judgment further refines the occupational expectations, such as knowing an occupation will grow faster than in the past, with the result being a set of occupational projections that accumulate to profile a state or regional economy.

A new set of occupational projections are done every two years to keep the information fresh even though economies do not change dramatically in short order. Because of slow change, updated occupational projects generally continue the overall message of preceding occupational projections. But economies do modify with time, and therefore, subtle changes will arise with each new set of occupational projections.

Utah’s most recent occupational projections are found here: These projections look forward to the year 2024.

The occupational profile is structured from the general to the detailed, mimicking the structure of a family tree. First, broad occupational categories are defined, such as management or healthcare occupations; then, subcategories are defined; and finally, individual occupations are defined. Individual occupations are the heart of the occupational projections. But overall patterns and characteristics do emerge when observing the broader categories.

While a Utah statewide profile leads the way, Utah’s local economies are not homogenous; therefore, nine Utah subregions are also profiled. Due to confidentiality restraints and statistical reliability, the amount of occupations available will diminish the smaller a subregion; but, occupations comprising the backbone of a regional economy will be available.

Mountainland Region
Cory Stahle, Regional Economist

Of the nine subregions referenced above, two encompass the Mountainland service area region: the Provo-Orem Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) — Utah and Juab counties combined, and the Wasatch Back area — Summit, Wasatch and Rich counties. The following are some general highlights from each area’s occupational projections:

Provo-Orem MSA
As mentioned above, individuals often look to government to understand the outlook for specific jobs. Through the occupational projections, outlook is measured in three ways: 1) job openings, 2) job growth and 3) wages.

Job openings are estimated based upon two major factors: replacements and growth. Replacements occur as individuals change occupations, retire or leave the labor force; while growth refers to labor market expansion and the addition of new jobs. The sum of these two factors result in total openings for each occupation or the economy as a whole. Current projections indicate that, on average each year between 2014 and 2024, occupations in the Provo-Orem metro area will generate 12,890 total annual openings.

In addition to openings, job growth rates are calculated for the total of all occupations and their subgroups. For the Provo-Orem area, total occupations are projected to grow at 3.8 percent annually through 2024, with computer related occupations expecting the highest growth at 6.3 percent.

These two statistics — job openings and job growth rate — measure different things. Annual openings are influenced by occupations with higher levels of employment and turnover, because these jobs require more replacements. This is illustrated in the Provo-Orem area as the occupations with the highest number of average annual openings are fast food workers, customer service representatives and retail salespersons. Conversely, annual growth does not account for employment size and turnover and can often overstate the outlook for smaller occupations.

However, when openings and growth are combined, the outlook becomes clearer. On the embedded visualization above, we limited annual growth rates to occupations with at least 75 annual openings and found interpreters, computer systems analysts and software developers to have the strongest employment outlook in the Provo-Orem MSA.

The final piece used to form the occupational outlook is wages. In order to understand the relationship between openings, growth and wages, the Department of Workforce Services publishes star ratings. Through a process of statistical weighting, occupations are assigned ratings from zero to five stars based on opportunity and compensation. As an example, a job with strong growth/openings and relatively high pay would be assigned the highest or five-star ranking. In contrast, a job with a limited employment outlook and low wages would be assigned zero stars.

In the current projections, 51 occupations were identified as five-star jobs in the Provo-Orem area. These jobs range from computer systems managers to registered nurses. The five-star occupation with the largest number of openings over the next 10 years is general and operations managers.

Wasatch Back Non-Metropolitan Area
Current projections indicate that, on average each year between 2014 and 2024, occupations in the Wasatch Back area will generate 2,070 openings and grow at 3.3 percent annually through 2024. When limiting annual growth rates to occupations with at least 75 annual openings, software developers, childcare workers and electricians had the strongest employment outlook.

As was evident in the Provo-Orem area, the occupations with the highest number of average annual openings in the Wasatch Back area were those with higher replacement rates. At the top of this list were waiters and waitresses, fast food workers and cashiers.

Additionally, 11 occupations were identified as five-star jobs in the Wasatch Back area, compared to 51 in the Provo-Orem MSA. This gap is primarily the result of a small base of occupations being assigned star ratings in the Wasatch Back area. In order to receive a star rating, occupations must meet a minimum level of employment. In the Provo-Orem MSA more than 350 occupations met this requirement, while the Wasatch Back area only disclosed about 90. Therefore, while other jobs may meet the criteria for a five-star occupation, they are suppressed to protect individual business confidentiality.

Whether you are a policy maker, business owner or individual looking to make decisions about a career or education, you can begin to see what a valuable informational tool occupational projections are. In addition to the embedded visualizations, please visit the Occupational Comparison Dashboard for more projections data.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Infrastructure Labor Market - Provo-Orem MSA

By Mark Knold, Supervising Economist, and Cory Stahle, Regional Economist

The labor force is made up of people. People vary in every conceivable way. One person is artistic while another can only draw stick people. One person might be able to disassemble and reassemble a car engine while another might not know what an alternator is. We are different. We have different aptitudes and abilities.

Parallel to this variability, jobs are different. High levels of education do make it possible to work in high-skill occupations that return high incomes. But not everyone is cut out for higher education or has the means to obtain higher education. Therefore, they might end up in “lesser” or “unimportant” jobs.

But is that accurate? Are their job options inferior and unimportant? A recent Brookings Institution report brings to light a segment of the economy that is highly important yet is dependent upon the labor force that may not be built for, have the economic means, or desire to attain a college degree or higher.

Brookings identifies a niche they call the infrastructure economy. As Brookings notes, “Infrastructure helps facilitate the exchange of information, drive production, and deliver resources, spanning multiple sectors of the economy and serving as a foundation to long-term growth.” It goes further to note that “Infrastructure jobs depend on a steady stream of talent to construct, operate, design, and govern the country’s major physical assets.” (article continues below) 

**Filter the viz below to see information on the infrastructure jobs in your area**