‘Jobs are plentiful’ as Utah’s economy continues to grow

ST. GEORGE — July’s job numbers show Utah is currently experiencing its lowest unemployment rate since before the Great Recession.

The monthly employment summary released by the Utah Department of Workforce Services Friday estimates that unemployment in the state is at 2.8% for the second month a row. The national unemployment rate is currently 3.7%

“This is the lowest rate we’ve had since before the Great Recession,” Mark Knold, senior economist for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, said in a recorded summary of July’s job numbers. The state hasn’t seen a 2.8% unemployment rate since 2007, he said.

In Southern Utah, unemployment in Washington and Iron counties is projected to be at 3.2% as of June.

Statewide, there were approximately 45,400 unemployed people actively seeking jobs in July.

“It’s a good time to not only be looking for a job, it’s probably a good environment to be looking to move up in the job chain,” Knold said.

Data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows year-over percentage change for nonfarm jobs from July 2018-July 2019 for the St. George metro-statistical area. | Image courtesy of the Utah Department of Workforce Services, St. George News | Click on image to enlarge

Utah’s overall job market grew by 4% since July last year, which translates to 50,900 jobs added during that time.

“Jobs are plentiful, and expanding job growth implies employers are resourceful in attaining a sufficient labor supply even in this low unemployment environment,” Knold said.

The job market in Washington County has grown by 4.3% over the last 12 months, according to preliminary estimates from the Department of Workforce Services, with just over 70,000 people listed as employed compared to 61,200 this time last year. Iron County also saw an increase, with nearly 19,800 people employed compared to 18,500 last year.

Utah’s private sector employment continued to see increases across the board. The most jobs gained were in the field of health and education, with 12,300 jobs added statewide over the last year. The field that saw the fastest growth, however, was information, which grew by 6.4%.

Private sector jobs in Washington County saw major increases in the areas of education and health; retail trade; leisure and hospitality; and construction.

In the St. George area, government officials focusing on job growth have placed an emphasis on bringing in jobs related to the tech industry, as well as fostering an environment where new start-ups can find support and grow. This focus aims to bring higher-paying jobs to the area and to diversify the local economy.

Lecia Langston, senior economist for the Department of Workforce Services’ St. George office, said wages have been going up in the St. George area in recent years.

“This is the fastest wage expansion in the past decade,” she said. “It is fueled by a tight labor market and low unemployment which puts upward pressure on wages.”

Langston said wages have grown between 3.5% and 5% over the last three years.

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