Utah’s job growth continues to lead the nation as unemployment falls to new low

(Al Hartmann | Tribune file photo) Construction workers at a building site in Salt Lake City. Utah’s construction sector added 7,400 jobs over the past year, according to numbers released Friday — part of a continuing expansion of the state’s labor force.

Utah’s job-creating spree continues, with new numbers released Friday showing its nonfarm labor force has grown by roughly 51,900 since May 2017.

Those gains — which bring Utah’s current employment level to 1,516,000 nonfarm workers — represented a 3.5 percent increase over the same time last year, giving the state the highest growth rate in the country.

Roughly 48,100 Utahns were unemployed in May, according to the state Department of Workforce Services. That inched Utah’s May unemployment number down from April, to 3 percent — well below the national jobless rate of 3.8 percent for the same month.

“May was an especially positive month for Utah’s labor market,“ the agency’s chief economist, Carrie Mayne, said in a written statement. “Gains across the gamut show that Utah‘s businesses are performing well and absorbing the state‘s labor-force growth.“

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unemployment rates dropped in May in 14 states and remained stable in 36 states and the District of Columbia. Hawaii had the nation’s lowest jobless rate, at 2 percent, while Alaska had the highest, at 7.2 percent.

The largest drops in unemployment came in New Mexico and Kentucky, the BLS reported.

According to the Department of Workforce Services (DWS), private-sector employment — which excludes government workers — in Utah grew by 3.9 percent, or by about 47,900 jobs, with nine of 10 industries surveyed by the state posting gains.

Utah added 12,400 jobs for trade, transportation and utility workers; 9,100 workers in professional and business services; and 7,400 in construction. In contrast, the natural resources and mining sector lost 300 jobs, the DWS said.