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Utah continues to add jobs at solid rate, unemployment down

Utah's economy added 42,100 jobs since November of 2015, a 3.0 growth rate, that contributed to another small decline in the state's jobless rate to 3.1 percent.

"The unemployment rate dropped for the fifth consecutive month, signifying a solid trend in absorbing job seekers into the state workforce," Carrie Mayne, the state Department of Workforce Services's chief economist, said Friday in releasing the November employment survey. The drop from 3.2 percent unemployment in October still left about 46,600 Utahns actively seeking work, she noted.

Mayne also was pleased by "yet another month of strong employment growth," with nine of 10 private industry sectors reporting gains that boosted the state's nonfarm payroll last month to 1,447,700.

Once again, the natural resources and mining industry fell markedly, losing 1,100 jobs over the past year, nearly 11 percent of its workforce.

Gains were most pronounced in job numbers in education and health services (9,200), financial activities (7,600) and professional and business services (7,500). Percentage increases were greatest among financial activities (9.3 percent), education and health services (4.9 percent) and construction (4.5 percent).

Wasatch Front inflation rising at Fed's desired rate

Consumer prices along the Wasatch Front rose 0.2 percent from October to November and are up 2.1 percent over the past year.

The Zions Bank Wasatch Front Consumer Index showed that Utah's increase was driven largely by a 2.9 percent jump in the price of good eaten away from home and a 2.8 percent rise in medical-care costs.

"Medical care prices are rising across the nation, and Utah is no exception to this trend," said Zions Bank President and CEO Scott Anderson, adding "Utah health care prices are rising at a relatively slower clip."

Transportation, clothing and recreation prices also rose 0.3 percent since last month.

Provo-Orem cited among top-performing cities

The Provo-Orem area was ranked second nationally in the Milken Institute's 2016 index in its annual list of the "Best Performing Cities: Where America's Jobs are Created and Sustained."

San Jose, Calif. took the top spot with its "tech-fueled economy [on a] two-year hot streak, with high job growth and average annual wages of $111,000 versus $60,300 for the nation overall," said institute chief research officer Ross DeVol.

The Provo-Orem Metropolitan Statistical Area tied with Austin, Texas, for the runner-up spot.

"America's best-performing cities yet again demonstrated their innovation advantage aligned with high levels of entrepreneurship," DeVol added.