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Gov. Gary Herbert announced a plan Tuesday to help roll back the state's jobless numbers, an effort that will involve launching new start-ups, attracting new companies to Utah and expanding existing businesses.
"Let's see if we can hire 100,000 new people over the next 1,000 days," said Herbert, who proclaimed Tuesday as Entrepreneurship Day, recognizing Utah's small businesses as the backbone of the state's economy.
If Utah's 83,000 small businesses each hired one new employee over the next three years, the state's unemployment woes would be largely solved, Herbert told 200 entrepreneurs assembled at the state Capitol.
Utah's job growth currently hovers at 2.9 percent almost triple the 1 percent national average. And the state's current 7.6 percent unemployment rate looks attractive compared with 9.1 percent nationwide.
However, 100,000 people in Utah are out of work, he said.
In mid-December, Herbert plans to roll out the details of his job plan that will launch Jan. 1, said Michael Sullivan, communications director for the Governor's Office of Economic Development.
"Those are jobs from entry-level minimum wage all the way up to CEO," Sullivan said of the effort.
Mark Knold, senior economist for the state's Department of Workforce Services, said that if Utah maintains its current 2.9 percent growth, Herbert's goal is reachable.
"We're still feeling the effects of the recession its consequences are still there," Knold said. "And yet we're sitting at 2.9 percent growth."
Whether the state can sustain the status quo remains in question.
"It could also get knocked off track," Knold said. "The national economy could throw curve balls at the situation."
Jeff Thredgold, an economist for Zions Bank, agreed with Knold, noting that Utah's reasonable taxes and business-friendly environment make it an attractive place for employers to land and expand.
"The biggest limitation to growth at the state or regional level," Thredgold said, "is the national economy that's not growing at all."