Utah’s economy ‘overtakes’ many in the nation – St George News

A view of St. George, Utah, date not given | Mori Kessler, St George News

ST. GEORGE – Utah’s employment rate has increased 3.1% since October 2021, according to data from the Utah Department of Workforce Services, as employers added 50,600 jobs for the state’s 1.69 million workers.

View of ongoing construction for a new Maverik location, Washington, Utah, September 20, 2022 | File photo, St George News

Ben Crabb, who is the regional economist for the state employment services, recently spoke to St George News about the latest data and how other metro areas compare to St George. Nationwide, unemployment rates are at “the lowest point,” he said, while residents of St. George are seeing the highest growth rates in the state.

“The labor market remains very tight, with unemployment rates lower than they have been for many years,” Crabb said. “In St. George, high growth through immigration and development creates many jobs. Overall, Utah’s economy is trailing many others in the nation as we all learn how to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.”

The October 2022 report states that Utah’s unemployment rate is 2.1%, which equates to approximately 37,300 unemployed in Utah. Nationwide, 3.7% of the employed are unemployed.

“We are 2 1/2 years after the outbreak of the COVID pandemic,” said Mark Knold, the department’s chief economist. “Utah’s economy continues to be one of the best performing state economies in the nation.”

Labor markets are tight across the country, Knold added. Nationally, this restricts growth in many states. Utah, also known as the Beehive State for its community building and deep relationships, seems to be doing better than average.

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“An unemployment rate of 2.1% signals that the job market in Utah is extremely tight,” Knold said. “Nevertheless, the economy continues to grow strongly. It speaks to both the strength and attractiveness of Utah’s economy. Only a strong inflow of labor can support an economy with low unemployment and growing at this rate.”

A drone view of the Red Cliffs Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, currently under construction, St. George, Utah, May 5, 2022 | File photo, St George News

The latest data shows that Washington County businesses have added 3,811 jobs since October 2021, a 4.8% increase. Iron County’s employment rate rose 4% over the same period, adding 942 jobs last year.

beaver county added 37 new jobs, Garfield County added 138, and Kane County added 75 new jobs. Despite the additional job opportunities, Garfield County leads everyone else in the per capita unemployment rate at 5.9%, followed by Wayne (4.4%) and Piute (4.1%).

Seven of Utah’s top 10 private sector industrial groups posted net job gains year-over-year, according to the department’s report. Construction grew the most with 15,100 new jobs, followed by trade, transport and utilities (11,300), education and health services (9,700) and leisure and hospitality (9,100). Three sectors saw employment declines or job losses, including financial activities which lost 2,000 jobs, followed by professional/business services (-1,500 jobs) and other services (-400 jobs).

In April 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the St. George metro area reported an 11.8% unemployment rate and a workforce of 77,466, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since then, when unemployment rates were the highest since records began in 1948, the St. George metropolitan area has added 10,622 new jobs.

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