Summit County unemployment rate decreases |

Summit County unemployment rate decreases

Alexandria Gonzalez , The Park Record

Construction on S.R. 224 has caused headaches for those trying to commute to and from Interstate 80 and new developments throughout the city is kicking up dirt, but Park City’s constant state of construction is a positive when it comes to job growth and lowering unemployment in Summit County.

The county ended 2013 with job growth at 2.4 percent with 543 new positions to be filled, but in the first quarter of 2014, approximately 1,000 additional jobs were created. It is no surprise that according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services, construction comes in at No. 1 in job growth in Summit County. Retail trade, healthcare, professional and technical services and administrative support follow closely behind.

Jim Robson, a regional economist for the DWS, said "continued job growth in construction is dependent on new projects, but with all the new housing demand in the county, those jobs will likely continue."

The increase in construction jobs seems to parallel the construction project boom Park City has experienced over the last year. The Park City Board of Realtors reported an increase in "new product" in the first quarter of 2014, construction has just begun on the new Stein Eriksen Residences in Deer Valley and a new housing development is being built in Newpark at Kimball Junction.

Healthcare comes in third in job growth, and the Park City Medical Center is a large contributor to those numbers. Rob Allen, CEO of the medical center, recently reported there were only 202 employees and 111 physicians on staff when the center opened its doors in 2009. It has since doubled both numbers and continues to expand.

The 82,000 square feet of space being added on to the hospital will house additional services, including educational programs and administrative space. That will contribute to job growth at the center, adding jobs in not only healthcare but also administrative support.

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In the meantime,at the University of Utah Healthcare’s Redstone Clinic in Kimball Junction, spokesperson Marissa Villasenor said they also expanded over the last year. The expansion helped the unemployment rate to decrease by requiring additional staff, including three medical assistants, three physicians and a nurse.

"Right now, the state job growth rate is 2.9 percent, which means Summit County is doing even better than the state of Utah as a whole," Robson said. "The state isn’t doing badly at all, though, because 2.9 percent is a healthy rate of growth."

Robson said most new jobs in the county are a result of existing businesses expanding, like the medical center, as opposed to an increase in new businesses.

According to the Utah State Office of the Governor, as of June 20, the state’s unemployment rate decreased from 3.8 percent to 3.6 percent in May. While Summit County’s unemployment rate of 3 percent remains below that of the state, Robson said it paints an overall positive picture for the economy in the county.

"Most of these jobs are going to people in the area, and that does not just mean Park City or Summit County," he said. "It also includes people in Wasatch or Salt Lake Counties that commute here for work and those that live here in Summit County and commute to other areas for work."

The lower unemployment rate has mostly positive effects on business and the economy in Summit County, but Robson said it might eventually cause problems for employers.

"What that indicates is that in Summit County, there is probably a fairly tight labor market, which means businesses might have a more difficult time getting the people they need to fill the new jobs available," he said. "It’s great to have a strong economy like Summit County does right now, but over time, it may present challenges for employers."

Nevertheless, Summit County’s job growth rate continues to increase as its unemployment rate decreases, contributing positively to Utah’s high ranking in both rates in the country. The Office of the Governor reported Utah comes in fourth in job growth and third lowest in unemployment rate, making the Beehive State one of the easiest places in which to find a job.

"It’s great to see the economy in Utah is on the rise once again," Robson said. "And that, no doubt, has a lot to do with the overall growing strength of the economy in Summit County."