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In-Depth: Where record unemployment helps and hurts

Posted at 5:40 PM, Nov 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-19 19:40:03-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s record low unemployment rate of 2.2% for October 2021 shows an economy booming with workers having extra leverage for pay, benefits and flexibility. It also signals a crunch for employers trying to find the workforce they need.

The Utah Department of Workforce Services compared Utah’s pre-pandemic labor force in October 2019 to the labor force in October 2021. The numbers show a few places of job loss amidst an embarrassment of riches in other industries and locales.

Comparing the public and private sectors in the chart below, Utah’s businesses have spurred the job growth.

Only two industries in Utah private sector showed fewer jobs from 2019 to 2021: Mining and Natural Resources and Leisure and Hospitality.

The federal government hired more people in Utah in 2021, but state and local governments shed jobs.

Four counties in Utah: Carbon, Garfield, San Juan and Uintah had fewer residents employed in October 2021 compared with the same month in 2019.

Fewer Utahns are choosing to work now, as is a percentage of the overall population. It’s not a big slide. Labor force participation in Utah was 68.6% in 2019, compared with 67.9 percent in 2021. While that percentage difference is tiny, it represents about 17,000 people who would have been working or looking for work in 2019 who are not in 2021.