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Utah ranked #1 for job growth, lowest unemployment rate

Of the 150,000 new unemployment filings since March, 100,000 are still actively looking for a job(Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Utah is ranked first for total job growth in the country, according to recent data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data looks at the numbers from Utah’s December 2019 employment numbers, ranking Utah first in three categories: total job growth, lowest unemployment rate and private sector growth.

The payroll employment for non-farm jobs for December grew by roughly 3.3%, adding 50,4000 jobs since December.

“Utah culminates 2019 with a resilient and convincing employment picture,” Mark Knold, Chief Economist at the Department of Workforce Services said in a statement. “The economy continues adding to multiple years of robust job creation. This dynamic has carried Utah to its lowest recorded unemployment rate. The job market is humming along at a feverish pace and is absorbing as much labor as possible.”

Utah ranked No. 1 for job growth and lowest unemployment

Utah also ranked first for the lowest unemployment rate in the U.S., coming in at 2.3% — tied with South Carolina and Vermont. This means approximately 37,900 Utahns were unemployed and actively looking for work, according to the study.

The national unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.5% — over a full point higher than the Utah average.

This is the lowest unemployment rate in Utah’s history, according to Nate McDonald, strategic communication professional for the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

“This is great news for the workforce,” McDonald said. “The economy is just booming. Also the professional and business industries are continuing to do really well.”

McDonald said seeing a lower unemployment rate isn’t always a positive thing — but with a steady growth in jobs, it brings a strong advantage to Utah’s economy.

“What we’re seeing that’s making it really positive, is we still have 3.3% job growth,” McDonald said. “We’re seeing high-paying, good jobs being at the top.”

Employers search for workers amidst job growth

With this rapid job growth, McDonald said it can force employers to become more creative to attract and recruit workers. This includes being more flexible and adjusting to schedules.

It also means venturing out beyond typical demographics to find employees that are, what McDonald refers to, “on the fringe.”

“Right now, we know they’re finding people who […] have been disconnected from the workforce,” he said. “Because of the strength of our economy, they’re stepping back in. Or they’re bringing people in from out of state.”

McDonald said employers have to seek out those in the “hidden workforce” — stay-at-home parents, rural Utahns, etc. — to create the business they’re seeking.

“”If an employer can move a job to a rural Utah area, whether it’s by telecommuting or actually move the job there,” he said. “There’s workforce out there.”

A growing workforce isn’t just an advantage for employers, McDonald said. With this increased demand for employees, wages are more likely to rise.

“”The great thing when it’s a tight labor market is that it does force wages to climb,” McDonald said. “Employers have to be more competitive because they need to retain their employees because it’s harder to find them. It does cause wages to grow more and more, and we’re seeing that.”

Utah reps respond to rankings

Utah government representatives are also reacting to the news, with some nodding their heads toward the president.

Sen. Mike Lee tweeted that the 2.3% unemployment rate is “fantastic news” and “more proof the #TrumpEconomy is working.”

 

Gov. Gary Herbert also tweeted about the news, acknowledging Utah has “consistently been recognized” for being the “best state for business in the nation.”