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Utah job market a national model, but some industries and regions still hurt

Posted at 5:42 PM, Mar 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-19 19:42:53-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The last pre-pandemic month in the US was February of 2020, and we now have the job numbers to compare the pre-pandemic labor market to the same month impacted by COVID-19 one year later.

Turns out, Utah is way ahead of most of the U.S.

In fact, Utah had as many jobs in February of 2021 as it had in that same month pre-pandemic. Not exactly the same; subtract 300 and you get the official 2021 estimate.

Nate McDonald of Utah's Department of Workforce Services says the rest of the country is envious.

"The fact that we're at net zero, meaning February of last year to February of this year, we have the same number of jobs, and that is really good news," said McDonald.

Beneath those numbers are some tough realities for some Utah industries and regions. For example, Summit County has a 13 percent unemployment rate, more than double the national rate. That reflects the hit that Utah's hospitality and food businesses have taken during the pandemic.

The jobs seeing the biggest increases year over year: messengers and couriers up over 52 percent, a predictable surge in the age of home delivery.

The biggest loser in terms of jobs is just as predictable: air travel down more than 15%.