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Utah’s unemployment down, employment up in April, marking economic progress, say DWFS

A Help Wanted sign is posted at a Designer Eyes store at Brickell City Centre, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, in Miami. Retail workers have been leaving in droves for other fields with better pay and benefits. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

SALT LAKE CITY– More Utah residents are headed back to work as the state’s unemployment rate continues to drop. In April, Utah’s unemployment rate dropped to 2.8%, compared to 2.9% from the month prior, according to the most recent employment report from the Department of Workforce Services (DWFS). The national unemployment rate increased to 6.1%. 

Employment growth in the Beehive State is currently higher than it was in April of 2019 now sitting at 2.3%. DWFS decided to evaluate the change in employment growth over a two-year period for a better idea of where Utah’s economy sits.

“We’re doing a two-year look back instead of a one-year look back,” DWFS Director Nate McDonald told Utah Morning News Friday. “And that’s because if we were comparing our jobs from this year to last year, this is when the bottom fell out and we had so many job losses [due to the pandemic]. It wouldn’t be a true reflection of our recovery.”

Despite a rocky economic year, McDonald says the uptick in employment, along with the number of jobs added to the market, is a promising sign. 

“It really is a strong signal that we are recovering and moving on the right track,” toward economic bounceback said McDonald. 

But, the nation, including Utah, is experiencing a labor shortage, sparking Governor Spencer Cox to end extended unemployment benefits as a way to incentivize people to work.

“We really are back to where we were at before the pandemic,” said McDonald in terms of jobs.

Prior to the pandemic, employers were able to select who they wanted to work. Now, businesses are struggling to find employees.

“During the pandemic, we really had a flip flop from it being a job-seekers market to it being an employers market,” explained McDonald. “Now employers are going to have to be more creative on how they are going to attract people to come over and work for them.” 

As of Friday, approximately 46,600 Utahns are unemployed. However, since 2019, the state has added more than 35,600 jobs to the market. 

Within the last two years, the private employment sector has seen recorded a 3.6%.

For additional information on Utah’s employment and unemployment rates, visit jobs.utah.gov/wi/update