BUSINESS

The numbers are in: Utah reports lowest unemployment rate in U.S.

Aug 21, 2020, 3:00 PM
August unemployment...
Utah reported a 4.1% unemployment rate for the month of August, a slight decrease from its 4.5% in July. (Credit: Paul Nelson)
(Credit: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Despite national economic losses from the COVID-19 pandemic, Utah is leading the country in employment rebound — reporting the lowest unemployment in the country for July. 

Utah’s numbers dropped to a 4.5% unemployment in July, down from 5.3% the month before, according to the state Department of Workforce Services. This is compared to the national average of 10.2%. 

“July’s employment assessment is a third consecutive month of Utah employment improvement,” said Mark Knold, chief economist at the Department of Workforce Services, to the Deseret News. “While the pace of job gains moderated a bit compared to the prior two months, the Utah economy is rebounding with vigor.”

Utah unemployment in July

Roughly 72,900 Utahns were considered unemployed in the month of July with about 1,516,800 reporting a stable job. 

However, Knold said he was hesitant to praise the numbers as a signal of a strong economy — noting the job count was still on the “negative side.”

“In other words, we have fewer people in jobs now than we did this time last year. In a 12-month (analysis), we still have a lot of room to improve,” he said. “We’ve improved a lot. We had that hit the bottom there in April and we’ve had a pretty strong bounce back since then. But the bounce back still has a ways to go before I would say that we have shaken off the effects of COVID completely.”

Looking to the future

Knold said he expects the Utah unemployment rate to begin a plateau and remain stable over the following months. That’s if the state doesn’t experience a COVID-19 resurgence. 

However, until there’s a vaccine the state can expect to experience a continued lag in progress compared to pre-pandemic unemployment rates, according to Knold. 

“I think you’re going to start to get some leveling off here at around (4.5%) as we go through the next couple of months,” he said. “Another way of saying it is over the last four months, the unemployment rate improved quickly and dramatically. The job growth rate improved quickly and dramatically. I don’t anticipate over the next couple of months that it will continue to improve dramatically.”

Utah’s 4.5% unemployment rate topped the national charts, with Nebraska ranking second at 4.8% and Idaho at 5%. 

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