Utah’s unemployment rate drops to 3%, while U.S. is at 6.2%

February numbers show the Beehive State’s economy continues to outperform the rest of the country in bouncing back amid the pandemic.

(Francisco Kjolseth | Salt Lake Tribune file photo) Help wanted signs from around the Salt Lake Valley on Friday, July 17, 2020.

Unemployment in Utah dropped in February to 3%, a level almost comparable to before the pandemic began.

Announced Friday, the Beehive State’s jobless rate last month was also slightly less than half the U.S. rate (6.2%) that same month, continuing a trend of Utah’s economy outperforming the rest of the country in bouncing back amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“Utah’s deliberate and steady pace toward job recovery continues,” Mark Knold, chief economist at the Utah Department of Workforce Services, said Friday in a news release.

Only Utah and Idaho, Knold said, had managed to rebuild employment so far to their levels before COVID-19: “All other states are still struggling to get their economics pointed in the right direction.”

Private-sector employment grew in February above its levels for the same month a year ago, with five of Utah’s 10 major nongovernment industry groups adding jobs, the state reported. Big gainers, on a percentage basis, were construction (up 5%); financial activities (up 4.8%); trade, transportation and utilities (up 3.8%); and professional and business services (also up 3.8%).

In terms of actual jobs, the trade, transportation and utilities sector alone added 10,900 positions last month.

Education and health services saw the biggest declines in February, down 12.3%, followed by leisure and hospitality, down 10.3%. Between them, those sectors represented about 9,500 jobs lost that month.