Community advocates say slowing job growth made worse by high inflation

May 7, 2021, 8:05 PM | Updated: 8:08 pm
utah labor shortage...
FILE: Image of the Utah Department of Workforce Services building in Salt Lake City, pictured on Thursday, April 2, 2020. Photo credit: Steve Griffin, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY – Inflation made the slowing job growth worse according to community advocates. Economic analysts say they were surprised to see such a disappointing jobs report, with far fewer new jobs than were expected, nationwide.  Locally, Utah’s job picture still looks relatively steady, but advocates say inflation is becoming a bigger problem. 

According to ABC News, analysts expected to see roughly a million new jobs being added across the country in the month of April.  So, it was extremely disappointing to see only 266 thousand were actually added.  Economists in Utah say the slowdown in job growth might be partly due to employers having a hard time finding enough people to fill their jobs. 

Currently, Utah’s unemployment rate is very low compared to the rest of the country.  Department of Workforce Services Spokesman Jared Mendenhall says we’re sitting at 2.9% unemployment, and far fewer people are making unemployment insurance claims.  Last year, over 100 thousand people filed for unemployment.

“The numbers today are under 30 thousand,” he says.

Mendenhall says Utah was in a good economic situation before the pandemic, which led to the state being in a good position during the pandemic’s last months. 

“In the month of March, we actually saw job growth in Utah.  We were one of the few states that had more jobs, year over year,” he says.

However, Mendenhall says that doesn’t mean the economy hasn’t been “battered and bruised” by COVID-19.  He acknowledges many people need help with the rising cost of housing across the state.  He encourages people going through housing insecurity to apply for rent relief through the state’s website.

These rising rent prices are reportedly causing more people to visit food banks and pantries along the Wasatch Front.  Crossroads Urban Center Executive Director Glen Bailey says rent isn’t the only problem their clients are facing.

Bailey says, “What we have seen is a pretty steady increase in people who are having a hard time paying their utilities, which is another part of housing costs.”

The center still gets money and food from its donors, however, they sometimes have to purchase food to keep up with the demand.  Bailey says that’s becoming harder to do since the cost of groceries is also on the rise.

“When we have to buy food, our dollars won’t go as far,” he says.

Bailey believes additional stimulus payments, enhanced SNAP benefits for food stamps and tax credits for dependents will be helpful for people in need.  However, he says people will still be under intense pressure when those funds run out since the rent will still be too high.


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Community advocates say slowing job growth made worse by high inflation