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Utah jobless rate much better than other states during pandemic

May unemployment numbers show April was the low point in Utah's COVID-19 setback
Posted at 8:03 AM, Jun 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 13:35:43-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s nonfarm payroll employment for May 2020 contracted by an estimated 4.8 percent with 75,400 jobs sidelined compared to the May 2019 employment.

Most job reductions remain as furloughs and are considered temporary in nature.

Utah’s current employment level registers 1,485,800. Utah’s April year-over job change has been revised down two-tenths of a percentage point to -7.3 percent.

May’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate is estimated at 8.5 percent. Approximately 137,200 Utahns were unemployed during May. Utah’s April unemployment rate has been revised upward from its initial 9.7 percent to 10.4 percent. The national unemployment rate for May lowered to 13.3 percent.

Utah is faring much better than other states, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


  1. Utah: -4.8%
  2. Arizona: -5.6%
  3. Idaho: -6.0%


  1. Utah: -4.6%
  2. Idaho: -6.1%
  3. Arizona: -6.2%


  1. Nebraska: 5.2%
  2. Utah: 8.5%
  3. Wyoming: 8.8%
  4. Arizona: 8.9%
  5. District of Columbia: 8.9%
  6. Idaho: 8.9%
  7. Montana: 9.0%
  8. North Dakota: 9.1%
  9. New Mexico: 9.2%
  10. Maine: 9.3%

“May’s employment improvement marks April as the low point in the COVID-19 economic setback,” reported Mark Knold, Chief Economist at the Department of Workforce Services. “We expect May to be the largest single month for job improvement with the initial return to work for many employees as consumer activity greatly increased. With the May job improvement, nearly one-quarter of Utah’s COVID-idled workers have returned to work.”

Utah’s private sector employment contraction eased in May, with a year-over setback nearly halved to -4.6 percent. Two of 10 private-sector major industry groups measured in the establishment survey posted net job gains in May:

  • Construction (8,000 jobs)
  • Financial Activities (500 jobs)

The remaining eight industry groups posted employment declines. The top three are:

  • Leisure and Hospitality Services (-42,100 jobs)
  • Professional and Business Services (-7,800 jobs)
  • Trade, Transportation and Utilities (-7,200)