Widening 'network' gets out the word fast on job openings

Why are Utah's unemployment and welfare rates well below the national average?

One big reason may be a ''network'' in Mormon churches which helps members learn of job openings in companies where other members work. Like a ''good ol' boy network,'' the Mormon network passes word of available positions usually before they are officially listed, giving church members a leg up on the job-hunting process.

''It's a contact system which really works well,'' states Glenn L. Pace, manager of welfare services for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon).

At Sunday meetings, members are asked to list any job openings they know and encouraged to keep a lookout for new ones. The information travels into any of the 40 job placement centers around the country, with six of them in Utah. Although women are included in the process, Mr. Pace said, ''they are not very involved.''

Last year, about 30,000 Mormons found jobs through the church's job placement services, mainly in the West where most of the church's members live. Over 52, 000 jobs were offered through the center, many by companies seeking Mormons because of their good work habits.

The service, coordinated at the church headquarters in Salt Lake City, claims it has a much higher success rate in finding jobs for members than similar professional services.

Begun in 1936 during the depression, the church welfare system provides a wide range of services to members in need and was recently cited by President Reagan as an example of ''help-thy-neighbor-help-himself'' volunteer action which he says is better than public assistance.

The number of Mormon job centers has increased steadily in the last decade. Another 12 centers are planned in the next year, as well as a nationwide computer hookup through Salt Lake headquarters to speed up information on available positions.

''As times get tougher, we swing more into the contact system,'' Mr. Pace said.

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