Utah employment rate No. 2 in nation as delta variant emerges

Stock Image | Photo by Lorenzo from Pexels, St.George News

ST. GEORGE — Utah’s August employment rate remains one of the best in the nation.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates | Graphic courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, St. George News

According to a summary released by the Utah Department of Workforce Services on Sept. 17, the national unemployment rate was at 5.2% in August. Meanwhile, Utah’s numbers came in as the second-best in the nation at 2.6% with most of Southern Utah showing similar numbers. Although the delta variant of COVID-19 has emerged, its impact is not expected to be a major issue.

“Utah’s August employment report shows that the state’s economy is still on a solid footing,” Mark Knold, Department of Workforce Services chief economist, said in his monthly audio statement. “It is continuing to expand, and it is doing so far ahead of most other states. The state’s two-year job growth is at 3.8%, and the unemployment rate is an extremely low 2.6%. The labor force participation rate continues to increase signaling more workers are returning to the job market and the employed percentage of the labor force is also increasing.”

While employment is improving in Utah, the state is still not showing the same overall levels as it did before COVID-19.

“The Utah labor force participation rate has moved up noticeably in the past four months,” Knold said. “It currently sits at 67.9 percent, but when COVID began, it was at 68.5 percent.”

Year-over percent change in nonfarm jobs | Graphic courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, St. George News

Knold said these numbers equate to roughly 14,000 less people active in the job market now than before COVID started.

“In other words,” he said, “as satisfying as the Utah economic numbers are, there is still room for improvement. We are currently not in a full-employment economy, but we are close. We are working our way toward it, but we are not there yet.”

Concerning the stability of the current economy, Knold said that the delta variant serves as the most visible threat to the economy. However, he added, there is some good news. 

“With the initial COVID wave of last year under our belt, and the knowledge gained from it, the delta variant, as a healthcare crisis, is not the unknown and scare as was the initial COVID outbreak,” Knold said. “Because of this, the delta variant should not be as powerful of an economic deterrent as was the initial pandemic outbreak.

“The Utah economy should weather this storm and should make it through to better days on the other side.”

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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