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
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 (imputted 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.
In January 2017 the Salt Lake City metropolitan area, which includes Salt Lake and Tooele counties, had the lowest unemployment rate among large metropolitan areas in the United States at 3 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics performed this comparative analysis with large areas defined as those "with a 2010 Census population of 1 million or more." For more information and a map of the data visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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?
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 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.
Salt Lake City MSA
The following are some general highlights gleaned from the Salt Lake
City Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) — Salt Lake and Tooele counties
combined — occupational projections:
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 Salt Lake City
metro area will generate 33,010 total annual openings.
In addition to openings, job growth rates are calculated for the total
of all occupations and their subgroups. For Salt Lake metro, total occupations
are projected to grow at 2.6 percent annually through 2024, with computer
related occupations expecting the highest growth at 4.1 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 Salt Lake City metro as the
occupations with the highest number of average annual openings are customer
service representatives, retail salespersons and fast food workers. 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 below, we limited annual growth rates to
occupations with at least 75 annual openings and found web developers,
post-secondary health teachers and software developers to have the strongest
employment outlook in the Salt Lake metro.
The final piece used to form 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 outlook.
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 limited
employment outlook and low wages would be assigned zero stars.
In the current projections, 87 occupations were identified as five-star
jobs in the Salt Lake City MSA. These jobs range from general practitioners to
wholesale and retail buyers. The five-star occupation with the largest number
of openings over the next 10 years is general and operations managers.
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.